A prominent Quebec cardinal is denying sexual assault allegations against him contained in a class-action lawsuit that was formally filed this week in Quebec Superior Court.
According to Vatican News, the official news portal of the Holy See, Cardinal Marc Ouellet says that the allegations are false and that it is defamatory to interpret his alleged actions as sexual assault.
A woman identified in court documents as "F." has accused Ouellet of several incidents of sexual assault between 2008 and 2010, including sliding his hand down her back and touching her buttocks at an event in Quebec City.
Ouellet, who currently heads the organization that advises the pope on the appointment of bishops, was archbishop of Quebec at the time of the alleged events. The allegations against him have not been proven in court.
The cardinal adds that he will "actively participate" in a civil investigation so that his innocence is recognized.
The Holy See press office said Thursday that Pope Francis has ruled out further investigation into the allegations against Ouellet due to a lack of evidence.
Ouellet, who was once considered a front-runner to become pope, says he "has learned of the false accusations" and "firmly denies any inappropriate gestures on her person."