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Paris Vatican Sexual assault

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Vatican envoy under investigation over sexual assault claim at Paris town hall

French President Emannuel Macron (L) shakes hands with Apostolic Nuncio to France Luigi Ventura during his New Year wishes to the diplomatic corps on January 4, 2018, at the Elysee Palace in Paris. ludovic MARIN / AFP

The Vatican's envoy to France is being investigated for sexual assault after he was accused of molesting a official at the Paris mayor's office during a ceremony last month, a judicial source told the French news agency AFP.

The envoy, 74-year-old Luigi Ventura, has been based in Paris since 2009 and serves as a diplomat for Pope Francis.

He was accused of molesting a man at the Paris town hall on January 17 where mayor Anne Hidalgo gave a New Year's address to diplomats, religious leaders and civil society figures.

Ventura "caressed in an insistent and repeated manner the young man's buttocks during the ceremony. He put his hands on his buttocks several times," a City Hall official told Reuters newswire.

The victim, a man in his 30s, was reportedly grouped in front of a witness. He works in the city hall international relations department.

A complaint was filed by the mayor's office on January 24 which led to an investigation being opened the day after, the judicial source said.

Le Monde newspaper first reported the investigation and the allegations against Ventura on Friday.

According to his website, Ventura has worked as diplomat for the Vatican, previously serving in Brazil, Bolivia, and the UK, before he was appointed papal nuncio to Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Niger, Chile, and Canada.