It is an exceptional sentence by a civil court, while the Catholic Church is shaken by multiple sex scandals. Former Vatican Ambassador to France Luigi Ventura was sentenced Wednesday, December 16 in Paris to an eight-month suspended prison sentence for sexual assault on five men during public meetings in 2018 and 2019, in the line of duty diplomatic.
The Paris Criminal Court found guilty of all the facts the 76-year-old Italian prelate, who was also ordered to pay 13,000 euros in moral damages to four victims, and 9,000 euros in legal costs.
This case, which erupted in February 2019, led the Holy See to lift the immunity of the apostolic nuncio, a first in the modern history of the Vatican.
An investigation was opened following a report from the Paris City Hall: one of its executives had denounced “Hands to buttocks” supported, on three occasions, during the ceremony of the vows to the diplomatic authorities. In its wake, four other men came to the courts for similar acts on the part of Luigi Ventura between January 2018 and February 2019.
An exceptional conviction
A man who was then responsible for running social networks at town hall recounted a sexual assault during the same vows ceremony the previous year. Another, then a 20-year-old seminarian, reported several similar touches during and after a mass. The same goes for a man who participated in a Franco-Italian evening in a luxury hotel in Paris and a senior official during a preparatory meeting for the G7. However, the latter did not wish to file a complaint and become a civil party.
The trial took place on November 10, in the absence of the defendant, who was also not present for the decision on Wednesday. At the hearing, the prosecutor requested a ten-month suspended prison sentence, considering that sexual assaults were established, but that it was necessary to take into account an expert report concluding that his judgment was impaired due to a « maladie cognitive » of the bishop.
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This is an exceptional sentence by a civil court (not a Vatican court) for a diplomat of the Holy See. Another former Italian nuncio, Mgr Carlo Maria Vigano, who had ended his career in Washington, but was already retired, was sentenced in 2018 by an Italian court for a history of family spoliation.
The conviction pronounced Wednesday against Luigi Ventura leads to his registration in the automated national judicial file of perpetrators of sexual offenses (Fijais).
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