Archbishop Luigi Ventura will not appeal his 8-month suspended sentence for sexual assault, his lawyer has confirmed.
A Paris criminal court found the former nuncio in France on December 16 guilty of laying his hands on the buttocks of five men while he was performing his public diplomatic duties.
AFP reported that he had to pay 13,000 euros to four of the men and 9,000 euros in legal fees.
Ventura’s attorney Solange Doumic confirmed French media reports that the Italian archbishop had decided not to appeal.
“Archbishop Ventura is too tired of this situation and the excitement that he was the subject of,” she told CNA.
Ventura was absent for the trial, which took place on November 10th. A doctor said it was too dangerous for Ventura, 76, who lives in Rome, to travel to Paris while the coronavirus rose in France. He was not present at the judgment.
Doumic had argued that the allegations against her client were minor and exaggerated to become “the trial of the Vatican against hidden homosexuality in the Vatican”.
She said Ventura touched the men’s hips or backs, but the gestures only lasted a few seconds and were never sexually intended. She also said that he may not have noticed that they were being viewed as inappropriate. She added that Ventura had some behavioral problems after having surgery for a brain tumor in 2016.
Prosecutor Alexis Bouroz requested a 10-month suspended sentence for Ventura. In France, sexual assault can be punished with a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to 75,000 euros.
The archbishop was first accused in early 2019 of inappropriately touching a staff member at a reception for the New Year’s address by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo on January 17, 2019. The allegation was then investigated by the Paris authorities for several months.
In February 2019, a second employee from the City of Paris filed a complaint against Ventura about an incident in January 2018.
Two other complaints were made to the authorities, one related to a reception at a luxury hotel in Paris and another by a seminarist related to a trade fair, both of which took place in December 2018.
The French newspaper Le Figaro reported that a fifth man, an official, reported an incident without filing a complaint.
The Vatican lifted Ventura’s diplomatic immunity in July 2019 and paved the way for trial in French courts.
He resigned as Nuncio to France in December 2019 at the age of 75 after serving 10 years in office.
Ventura was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Brescia in 1969. In 1978 he entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See and was stationed in Brazil, Bolivia and Great Britain. From 1984 to 1995 he was appointed State Secretariat in the Section for Relations with States.
After his episcopal consecration in 1995, Ventura served as a nuncio in Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chile and Canada. In September 2009 he was appointed apostolic nuncio in France.