November 28, 2021

Former priest Bernard Preynat arrested in the Loire

The former priest Bernard Preynat, sentenced in 2020 to five years in prison for sexual assault on minors committed between 1971 and 1991 in the diocese of Lyon (Rhône), was arrested this Wednesday in the Loire in execution of his sentence , learned CNEWs from a source close to the matter.

The now 76-year-old former priest, who had previously avoided incarceration for health reasons, was brought before a court before being incarcerated in La Talaudière remand center, according to a press release from the Saint-Étienne prosecutor.

“It is a sentence which is brought to execution”, had previously commented to the Agence France-Presse (AFP) Fédéric Dsez, the lawyer of Bernard Preynat. According to him, the state of health of his client “is very worrying and a medical opinion must take place, which will be done because he is going to see a doctor in prison”, he added.

In autumn 2020, Bernard Preynat, who had initially appealed just after his conviction, withdrew from this appeal, paving the way for his imprisonment.

The weakened church of France

Six years after the first complaints lodged in 2015 by former scouts abused at the time by the chaplain of Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon (Rhône), this announcement ended a long legal fight which put the ‘Church of France and its highest dignitary, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, singled out for their silence.

At her trial in March 2020, the prosecutor accused the former chaplain of having “broken” the lives of young scouts and of having “used the silence of parents and the silence of the Church” to increase her abuses. One of the lawyers for the civil parties had estimated the number of assaults between 3,000 and 4,000.

Maintained in office by the diocese of Lyon until the fall of 2015 when his actions had been known for a long time, Bernard Preynat had asked for forgiveness from the nine victims who came to testify about their suffering.

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, was convicted at first instance in 2019 for non-denunciation of acts of sexual assault, then released by the Court of Appeal. He had resigned from his functions at the head of the diocese of Lyon, at the end of these trials.