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French Priest Confesses to Abusing Dozens of Children

Earlier today Bernard Preynat, a 75-year-old ex-priest, was convicted and sentenced to prison for five years for sexual assault. Preynat admitted to abusing dozens of boys for nearly 20 years in Lyon, France. The case highlights the profound corruption within the Church’s establishments with the guilt of a top cardinal deepening the world’s understanding of clerical sexual abuse.

Preynat was formerly a Boy Scout leader and used his position to assault dozens of Boy Scouts for nearly two decades, from the 1970s to the 1990s. It is estimated that Preynat assaulted at least 80 boys between the ages of seven and 15. The trial lasted four days with ten of the victims testifying against him. The maximum sentence is 10 years; prosecutors asked for an eight-year sentence, but only a five-year sentence was handed down because of Preynat’s old age.

The case highlights the Church’s systematic issues of covering up sexual abuse. Last year, Phillipe Barbarin, Preynat’s superior, was accused of covering up Preynat’s history of abuse and was found guilty of failing to report the abuse. Barbarin was acquitted in January on appeal, and earlier this month Pope Francis accepted his resignation. In the past few years an immense amount of clerical sexual abuse has come to light, bringing more speculation about the Church’s handling of allegations, repercussions, and the safety of the children.

Sources: BBC News 3/16/20; New York Times 3/16/20

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