The Vatican's envoy to France is under investigation for sexual assault after being accused of molesting an official at the Paris mayor's office, a judicial source told AFP.
The envoy, 74-year-old Luigi Ventura, has been based in Paris since 2009 and serves as a diplomat for Pope Francis and is covered by diplomatic immunity.
He was accused of molesting a man at the Paris townhall on January 17 when mayor Anne Hidalgo gave a New Year's address to diplomats, religious leaders and civil society figures.
"During the ceremony, a city employee was repeatedly groped on the backside, in three instances, once in front of a witness," a townhall source told AFP.
"It was quickly decided to report the matter to the public prosecutor," said Patrick Klugman, deputy mayor responsible for international relations.
The complaint was filed by the townhall on January 24 and led to an investigation being opened the day after, the judicial source said.
The victim, a man in his 30s, also works in the townhall's international relations' department.
Italian-born Ventura is a career diplomat at the Vatican.
He previously served in Brazil, Bolivia, and Britain, before being appointed papal nuncio to the Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Niger, Chile and then Canada, according to his website.
France's Catholic Church has been roiled in recent years by sexual claims against priests which have come to light in the wake of a global move by victims of abuse to come forward with evidence.
A court in Lyon, southeast France, is due to give a verdict on March 7 in the case of Philippe Barbarin, the city's 68-year-old archbishop, and five former aides, accused of covering up the sexual abuse of former boy scouts by one of his priests.
The priest, 73-year-old Bernard Preynat, was charged in 2016 with assault cases going back more than 20 years. He is expected to be tried later this year.
Clerics have been denounced in countries as far afield as Australia, Brazil, Chile, Ireland and the United States, leading Pope Francis to promise to rid the church of a scourge that has done enormous damage to its standing.