France’s most important church sex abuse trial to date is likely to end in acquittal for a cardinal and other senior Catholic officials accused of protecting a pedophile priest, despite years of efforts by his victims to seek justice.
The Rev. Bernard Preynat confessed to abusing Boy Scouts, and his victims say church hierarchy covered up for him for years, allowing him to work with children right up until his 2015 retirement.
But by the time the cover-up trial reached court in Lyon this week, the statute of limitations had expired on some charges. And even the prosecutor argued Wednesday against convicting Cardinal Philippe Barbarin and other church officials, saying there were no grounds to prove legal wrongdoing.
Victims’ lawyers seemed to have little hope for a conviction, despite an emotional trial in which grown men recounted their childhood fear and shame after alleged abuse by a respected priest.