Former Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit cleared of suspicion of sexual assault

Former Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit cleared of suspicion of sexual assault

In the absence of an offense, the Paris public prosecutor's office closed the procedure for sexual assault opened after a report targeting the former archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, who will "henceforth" be able to continue his "pastoral mission" without " difficulty", according to his lawyer.

The investigation was opened in December 2022 after a report from the diocese of Paris and the investigations entrusted to the Brigade for the Repression of Personal Delinquency (BRDP).

They related to the written exchanges between Mgr Aupetit and a parishioner who was the subject of a judicial protection measure, whose apparent consent had to be confirmed.

According to Me Jean Reinhart, Michel Aupetit's lawyer, there was "never any ambiguity" or "inappropriate gestures" on his client's side.

"Mgr Aupetit had approached the opening of this investigation with serenity because he was certain that it could only end with a classification without further action. He can continue to act in his pastoral mission without there being any difficulty from now on,” he told AFP.

“No criminal offense”

The former archbishop of Paris was heard in a free hearing on June 9 and "maintained never having had a romantic or sexual relationship with the woman concerned", the Paris prosecutor's office said on Thursday, requested by AFP.

“She told investigators that she had a clear memory of the situations mentioned. She considered that they did not constitute any criminal offense, she did not file a complaint,” according to the same source.

“Nothing being likely to be qualified criminally”, the prosecution therefore closed the procedure without further action.

Mgr Aupetit, appointed head of the archdiocese of Paris in December 2017, presented his resignation at the end of November 2021 to Pope Francis, who immediately accepted it, after several newspapers had attributed to him a romantic relationship with another woman, which he had categorically denied.

He was then also very controversial for his management of human resources in the diocese.

Entering the priesthood late - he was ordained at the age of 44 after practicing medicine for 11 years - Michel Aupetit, 72, exercised various ministries as vicar, parish priest and chaplain to young people, before to be appointed bishop.

The archbishop, who had to manage the fire at Notre-Dame de Paris in 2019, is known for his strict positions on the family and bioethics: he notably supported the "marches for life" hostile to the interruption voluntary pregnancy.

He also had trouble with the homosexual community in 2012 during the debates on “marriage for all”.

Still considered a bishop (emeritus) by the Vatican, Mgr Aupetit settled, after his resignation, in a former Toulouse abbey.

According to his council, who emphasizes that "the pope has never taken away his trust", he "dedicates his pastoral mission" to associations helping the poor throughout France.

The Editorial Board (with AFP)

Image credit: Creative Commons / Wikimedia

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