French Sexual Abuse Trial Casts New Cloud on Catholic Church

Lyon's archbishop, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin and five other figures are on trial on charges of failing to act against sexual abuse allegations targeting a priest in his diocese. This is the latest pedophilia scandal rocking the Roman Catholic Church before a key Vatican conference on sexual abuse.

The sexual abuse allegations date back to the 1980s and 1990s. They involve Father Bernard Preynat, a priest in France's Lyon diocese, who has admitted to wrongdoing and is due to go on trial later this year.

But one of country's most prominent clerics, Lyon's archbishop Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, is accused of covering up the abuse. If found guilty, he faces up to three years in jail and a $54,000 fine.

Barbarin denies the charges. He says he took action as soon as he found out about the sexual abuse allegations — many years later.

The archbishop did not comment publicly before his trial, but one of his lawyers says the cleric expects to be acquitted.

Barbarin reportedly sought advice about how to handle the allegations from a Vatican official who will not be present at the trial on grounds of diplomatic immunity.

Francis Devaux, who heads French victims' group "Freed Speech" [La Parole Liberee], told local TV what is most imp...


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