Former Paris Archbishop Accused Of Sexual Assault

Former Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit is being investigated for sexual assault with a mentally challenged woman.

The French Prosecution department confirmed that authorities last month opened a preliminary inquiry into allegations that the former archbishop of Paris had committed “sexual assault on a vulnerable person”.

The investigation was launched in response to a report made by the Paris diocese.

Michel Aupetit proposed to resign in late 2021 in response to media revelations of an intimate connection with a lady in 2012, claims he has strongly denied.

However, Pope Francis accepted the resignation.

According to French broadcaster BFMTV, the relationship was with a vulnerable individual who was under court protection.

AFP reported that the investigation is looking at “email interactions” between Aupetit and the woman, whose consent would have to be certified due to her mental health.

In a statement on Tuesday evening the diocese acknowledged it had submitted the complaint, and stated it was “not in a position to verify whether the facts in issue are verified or whether they constitute a crime”.

Jean Reinhart, the clergyman’s lawyer, declined to comment on the case.

“We have no information of any complaint, therefore we cannot comment on it,” he stated.

A diocese spokesperson in 2021 said Aupetit “had ambiguous behavior with a person he was very close to”, adding that it was “not a loving relationship”, nor sexual.

But she said the offer to step down was “not a confession of guilt”.

Aupetit was archbishop during the April 2019 fire that ravaged the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, regularly appearing on television to express anguish over the disaster and rally funds for the rebuilding effort.

Catholic priests are bound to celibacy under church doctrine and are meant to practice sexual abstinence.

The French church is still reeling from the publication in October 2021 of a devastating report by an independent commission, which estimated that Catholic clergy had abused 216,000 children since 1950.