French Cardinal convicted for not reporting abuse

A French cardinal was convicted last week of not reporting clerical sex abuse. He says he will be offering Pope Francis his resignation.

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon, who was convicted by the Lyon Correction Court, received a suspended sentence of six months for not denouncing the sexually abusive acts of Father Bernard Preynat when he was told of them in 2014 and 2015.

Preynat had already been accused of sexually abusing about 70 scouts in the 1970s and 1980s.

Barbarin was also blamed for allowing Preynat to continue to have contact with children while carrying out his work until September 2015.

Five other aides were tried with Barbarin. They were found not guilty due to a lack of evidence, or because of the historic nature of the offences.

At the sentencing, Judge Brigitte Vernay said Barbarin was “guilty of non-denunciation of mistreatment” of a minor between 2014 and 2015, the period in which he received the testimony of Alexandre Hezez who was the first victim to contact him about Preynat’s abuse.

“The responsibility and guilt of the cardinal have been confirmed by this judgment. It’s an extraordinary symbol, a moment of huge emotion,” says Yves Sauvayre, a lawyer for the victims.

Francois Devaux, the spokesman for the victim support group La Parole Libérée, described the outcome as “historic” and as a “major victory for child protection”.

He noted that such a prominent individual had never been prosecuted for these crimes in France, and he hailed the “pugnacity” of the victims.

Another organisation that supported Preynat’s alleged victims says the outcome of the trial was “very important”. It also called on individuals to report all cases of abuse.

Barbarin’s defence lawyers say they will appeal the court’s ruling.

“The reasoning of the court is not convincing,” Jean-Felix Luciani says.

“We will contest this decision by all means possible. See you here in a few months for an appeal.”

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News category: World.

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