Death of ex-priest Bernard Preynat, convicted of numerous sexual assaults on minors

Death of ex-priest Bernard Preynat, convicted of numerous sexual assaults on minors
Death of ex-priest Bernard Preynat, convicted of numerous sexual assaults on minors

Former priest Bernard Preynat, 79, sentenced in 2020 to five years in prison for sexual assault on minors which tainted the hierarchy of the diocese of Lyon, was found dead on Sunday June 23 in Saint-Etienne, said the parquet.

The man, released under electronic bracelet ” since a few weeks “was found lifeless in his bathroom, said a duty magistrate, confirming information from BFM Lyon. An investigation into the causes of death has been opened. “even if there is nothing suspicious on his body which will be examined by a forensic doctor within a few days”according to this source.

Maintained in office until 2015

In March 2020, Bernard Preynat was sentenced to five years in prison for countless sexual assaults. They were committed between 1971 and 1991 on scouts aged 7 to 15 while he was chaplain of Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon (Rhône).

During his trial, prosecutor Dominique Sauves accused him of having ” broken “ lives and being “served by the silence of parents and the silence of the Church” to multiply its abuses. One of the lawyers for the civil parties estimated the number of attacks between 3,000 and 4,000.

Maintained in office by the diocese of Lyon until the fall of 2015 even though his actions had been known for a long time, Father Preynat asked for forgiveness from the nine victims who came to testify to their suffering. Many others were unable to file a complaint due to the statute of limitations.

Discomfort in the Church

He was defrocked in 2019 at the end of his canonical trial, a very late decision in the eyes of the victims, a symbol of the Church’s unease in the face of this affair which sealed the fate of the Primate of the Gauls, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin.

Convicted in 2019 for his silence on these acts, following a resounding trial, the former archbishop of Lyon was acquitted on appeal. However, he preferred to resign from the diocese and is today chaplain in Brittany.

In an October 2021 report, the Sauvé commission on sexual violence in the Catholic Church estimated at 330,000 the number of people who have been the subject of sexual violence since 1950, when they were minors, at the hands of clerics, religious or people linked to the Church.

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