French ex-priest, convicted for sexually assaulting minors, found dead

Europe © Philippe Desmazes/AFP
© Philippe Desmazes/AFP

The defrocked priest Bernard Preynat, who was convicted in 2020 of sexual assault on minors and sentenced to five years in prison, was found dead Sunday at his home near Lyon.

Preynat, 79, who had been released a few weeks ago from prison to house arrest with an electronic ankle monitor, because of his poor health, was found dead Sunday in his bathroom in Saint-Étienne.

Prosecutors have opened an investigation into the cause of death, even if nothing suspicious was found on the body, according to BFM. A medical examiner is expected to deliver a report in a few days.

Preynat's conviction in 2020 for several sexual assaults on children aged 7 to 15 years old between 1971 and 1991 shook the Catholic church hierarchy, which knew about and covered up his crimes for years.

He was belatedly defrocked by the church in 2019, the same year that Cardinal Philippe Barbarin was convicted for failing to report Preynat's assaults, which he knew about.

An appeals court later overturned Barbarin's conviction.

During his trial, Preynat admitted to the abuse and asked forgiveness of the nine victims who testified. Many others were unable because of the statute of limitations.

He was ordered to pay compensation to victims by the Lyon ecclesiastical court.

(with AFP)

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