French former Catholic priest convicted of raping and sexually abusing four boys

Europe AP - Gerald Herbert
AP - Gerald Herbert

Olivier de Scitivaux de Greische, 64, has been handed a 17-year sentence after admitting to raping and sexually assaulting four young boys for more than a decade in the 1990s and 2000s.

A criminal court on Saturday found de Scitivaux de Greische, a former senior priest in the diocese of Orléans southwest of Paris, “guilty of all the acts of rape and aggravated sexual assault” he was accused of.

The court announced the accused would have to serve a minimum of 10 years behind bars.

In a hearing behind closed doors on Friday, the former priest – who was returned to lay status at his own request – acknowledged everything “without reservation”.

“I admit, because I have to use words, to the touching, the caresses, the fellatio, the digital and penile penetrations, to all the acts," he told the court.

The court also sentenced the accused to socio-judicial supervision, the obligation to seek treatment, and a ban on carrying out any professional or voluntary activity involving contact with minors.

For the first time, the accused admitted to raping and sexually assaulting two other victims as early as 1982, but he cannot be prosecuted for those acts since they were past the statute of limitations.

Damien Brossier, de Scitivaux de Greische's lawyer,  has appealed to the court for leniency, stressing that his client was no longer a danger. 

Warnings ignored

Olivier de Scitivaux de Greische was ordained a priest in 1989 when he was 29.

He soon became close to the parents of his victims – three brothers – regularly inviting himself to their home and staying overnight in the bedroom of the eldest child, who was raped and assaulted from the age of 9.

“Olivier de Scitivaux was the gangrene, because he was everywhere in the family”, said lawyer Clémence Lemarchand, representing one of the victims.

Sexual acts took place at the boys' home while their parents slept, but also at the Scitivaux domaine, in a winter chalet or on summer camp. 

The three brothers and a friend described before the court the abuse they each suffered, unaware at the time that the others were also victims.

“Look closely at his hands”, the youngest of the siblings said, “my first ejaculation was in his hands, his hands give out Holy Communion.”

The youngest brother described several months where the priest would call by "every week, every day, every evening” and “the moment when he used tools on my body” or when “he shaved me”.

“When one wasn't available, there was the second or third”, de Scitivaux de Greische said, in reference to the three brothers, who are now in their 40s.

Despite youth workers and families first alerting the diocese to the abuse in the 1980s, and further warnings by families and youth workers within the chaplaincy in 1998, the sexual assaults continued through to the early 2000s.

The Catholic Church has been rocked by child sexual abuse scandals around the world, and regularly accused of turning a blind eye to them.

In 2021, a report on sexual abuse within the French Catholic Church found that 216,000 minors were victims of abuse from 1950 to 2020. An independent commission said it was a massive phenomenon covered up for decades by a "veil of silence".