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French priest on trial, accused of sexually abusing 75 boys

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French priest on trial, accused of se-xually abusing 75 boys

LYON, France (AP) – A French former priest accused of se-xually abusing some 75 boys when he labored as their scout chaplain is on trial in Lyon, France’s worst clergy abuse drama to succeed in courtroom to date.

Church hierarchy is suspected of masking up Bernard Preynat’s actions for many years, and a French cardinal was convicted final 12 months of failing to report him to police or prosecutors. The case’s repercussions reached all the way in which to the Vatican.

Preynat has admitted to abusing boys within the 1970s and 1980s, and advised the courtroom Monday, “I have heard the suffering of these people, which I’m guilty of causing. I hope that this trial can unfold as quickly as possible.”

The trial briefly opened Monday however was rapidly delayed as a result of of a attorneys’ strike.

The proceedings resumed Tuesday, although some attorneys pleaded for a brand new delay.



Preynat, now 74, is charged with sexual assault of 10 minors between 1986 and 1991. He faces as much as 10 years in pri-son if convicted. He’s additionally accused of abusing dozens of others within the 1970s and 1980s, however these alleged incidents occurred too way back to prosecute.

Parents first alerted the diocese to alleged molestation by Preynat in 1991. The priest swore to the then-cardinal that he would now not contact a toddler, and no different victims have come ahead saying he abused them after 1991.

He wrote a letter that 12 months to the mother and father of a sufferer who needed him to depart the Scout affiliation he led, studying: “I swear to you that since the start of the school year in September, absolutely nothing has happened between me and the children. (…) Everything that happened has shaken me up a lot and made me think. I am not trying to justify myself since I am wrong. Let me finish the year normally. ”

At the time of the abuse, Preynat was in cost of the Saint-Luc scout camp in a non-public Catholic college in Sainte-Foy-les-Lyons within the suburbs of Lyon for 20 years, then continued his profession as a priest till 2015 within the mountains close to Lyon.

In 2014, the priest was overtaken by his previous. Alexandre Hezez, who stated he had been abused as a toddler by Preynat, went public as an grownup and requested church hierarchy why he was nonetheless in workplace. Other victims got here ahead too, one after the other.

It wasn’t till final 12 months that the French Catholic Church discovered Preynat responsible of abuse and eliminated him from the priesthood.

In defrocking him, the church stated in a press release: “In view of the facts and their recurrence, the large number of victims, the fact that Father Bernard Preynat abused the authority conferred on him by his position within the Scout group that he had founded (…), the court decided to apply the maximum penalty (…), namely the dismissal from the clerical state.”

That determination got here after French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin was convicted in March of masking up for Preynat’s actions. Barbarin tried to resign, however Pope Francis refused to simply accept it till the appeals course of is full. An appeals courtroom ruling is anticipated Jan. 30.

Several different church officers have been additionally accused of failing to alert police or prosecutors, together with a senior Vatican official, Cardinal Luis Ladaria. The Vatican invoked his immunity as an official of a sovereign state.

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