French Catholic priest gets 5-year jail term for sex assault of boy scouts

(AFP)
A defrocked Catholic priest become given a 5 years prison time period Monday for sexually abusing boy scouts in his care several a long time ago, a case that roiled the French Church over claims he changed into protected from prosecution by using his superiors.

Bernard Preynat, 75, had confessed at his trial in January inside the southeastern metropolis of Lyon to "caresses" he knew have been forbidden after sufferers testified of the abuses they suffered at his hands.

The accusers have been elderly seven to 14 when the alleged crimes were devoted among 1971 and 1991, while Preynat become a scout chief in Lyon.

The five-year time period changed into less than the 8 years sought by way of prosecutors, who accused the ex-priest of "shattering" his victims' lives and cashing in on the silence of parents and Church hierarchy.

Victims' companies had lengthy accused Preynat's superior, Philippe Barbarin, of protecting up the abuse, making him the maximum senior French priest to be stuck up inside the worldwide clerical paedophilia scandal in recent years.

Barbarin, a staunch conservative who became archbishop of Lyon in 2002, become surpassed a six-month suspended sentence in March 2019 for no longer reporting crimes Preynat confessed to him in 2010.

But in January, an appeals court overturned the conviction, pronouncing that whilst Barbarin have to have informed the authorities, he turned into no longer criminally answerable for his lack of action.

Pope Francis ordinary Barbarin's resignation in advance this month.

- 'These horrible facts' -

Preynat changed into allowed to continue operating as a priest through the Lyon dioceses till 2015, while initial claims from a handful of alleged sufferers became a deluge of damning testimony.

He claimed at some point of his trial that he had now not touched any children given that 1991, and faulted the church for failing to assist him get treatment.

"They need to have helped me... They permit me grow to be a priest," Preynat told the court, referring to fruitless therapy in 1967 and 1968.

He also asked forgiveness from the nine victims who testified in opposition to him -- a small fraction of the alleged 85 humans he took advantage of all through his career, though many instances were now not heard because they passed statutes of limitation.

Preynat, who also stated he had tried to commit suicide, become defrocked with the aid of the Church closing July.

The scandal forged a harsh highlight on Barbarin, who denied final year that he protected up "these horrible facts" and claimed that "I can not see what I am responsible of."

This month, he said the remaining 4 years had been ones of "superb, remarkable suffering" for him, adding "it is important that a web page be turned."

It became the problem of an acclaimed film last yr with the aid of director Francois Ozon titled "Grace a Dieu" (Thanks be to God), who collaborated with some of the victims.

Separately on Monday, a court in Saintes, southwest France, suspended the trial of a retired French general practitioner accused of sexually assaulting and raping minors in what prosecutors agree with will be France's biggest paedophilia case ever.

Joel Le Scouarnec, 69, went on trial final week on fees he raped or assaulted 4 youngsters, however prosecutors say he may have abused as many as 349 children over his 30-year career.

His trial became driven lower back to October after French authorities closed all courthouses to all but "critical litigation" as a part of measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

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