A woman identified as “F.” in court documents tabled on Tuesday accused Ouellet of several incidents of unwanted touching, including sliding his hand down her back and touching her buttocks at a 2010 event in Quebec City.
The lawsuit represents more than 100 people, including minors, who were alleged to have been sexually assaulted by 88 priests and staff working at the Quebec diocese starting in 1940, according to a court document and a news release issued by the Arsenault Dufresne Wee firm which filed the class action.
Ouellet now heads the Vatican’s powerful Congregation for Bishops which advises the pope on which priests should be made bishops. He is on many experts’ shortlists of candidates to succeed Pope Francis after the pontiff dies or resigns.
Other media outlets have reported the lawsuit against Ouellet, who is considered a potential successor to Pope Francis, is one of two class-action lawsuits filed by the law firm Arsenault Dufresne Wee Avocats, recently authorized by a Quebec judge.
Although the allegations against Ouellet appear less physically serious than other cases cited in the lawsuit and he faces no criminal charges for the time being, impact on the victim is just as significant, said attorney Alain Arseneault.
In July, Pope Francis made a “penitential” trip to Canada and apologized to indigenous people for Church abuses in the residential school system, where over 150,000 children of native peoples were physically, psychologically and sexually abused.