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'I maintain my innocence': Quebec cardinal releases video to clear his name after sex-abuse allegations

Quebec cardinal Gérald Lacroix speaks in a YouTube video published on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Source: YouTube/@Webtélé ECDQ) Quebec cardinal Gérald Lacroix speaks in a YouTube video published on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Source: YouTube/@Webtélé ECDQ)
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Two days after a Vatican-mandated investigation found no evidence that Gérald Lacroix committed sexual abuse, the Quebec cardinal released a video statement saying he did nothing wrong.

"I maintain my innocence," Lacroix said in a video published on YouTube on Thursday.

On Tuesday, retired Quebec Superior Court judge André Denis released the results of his investigation, which found that he couldn't find anything that would substantiate the allegations. Denis acknowledged, however, that his probe was incomplete because the complainant refused to take part in the investigation, and that her lack of participation "has left me at a loss."

Pope Francis, who appointed the Quebec cardinal as Archbishop of Quebec in March 2023, had asked the ex-judge in February to look into the allegations, which first arose from a class-action lawsuit. Lacroix's name was among 15 added to a list of alleged perpetrators in the court document, authorized in Superior Court in 2022, that made several claims of sexual abuse by clergy and staff dating back to 1940.

In his video on Thursday, he said he wants the "light to be shed fully and completely" on the allegations he's accused of.

"I invite the plaintiff to contact Judge Denis as he has proposed or to file a criminal complaint against me so that a proper trial can be held. The community has the right to know whether or not the acts of which I am accused took place," the cardinal said.

He also welcomed the investigative report — an indication that the church takes sexual abuse allegations seriously, he said. The report concluded that there was no need for Lacroix to face a judicial process at the Vatican.

Arsenault Dufresne Wee, the Montreal-based law firm that represents the complainant, took issue with Denis' investigation, saying it had no real impact and that its client didn't want to take part in an internal process that lacked credibility.

"She wants to take part in a trial at the Quebec Superior Court because it’s an independent tribunal," lawyer Alain Arsenault said in an interview with The Canadian Press on Tuesday.

In his video statement, Lacroix thanked his supporters for their prayers and said that he has decided not to return to his duties as Archbishop since stepping aside in January.

"I have voluntarily chosen to remain discreet," he said. "I will re-evaluate my decision periodically."

With files from The Canadian Press

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