Canadian priest gets 12 years for sexual abuse in France
A Canadian priest was sentenced to 12 years in prison Wednesday for raping a young member of his Normandy parish. Rev. Denis Vadeboncoeur had moved to France in 1988 after serving a prison term in Quebec for sexually abusing minors.
The victim, who was identified only by his first name, Jean-Luc, took the stand Tuesday. He said he originally sought Vadeboncoeur's guidance because he was having problems at home.
"He was an adult who wasn't strict and understood kids. We could talk about everything with him," Jean-Luc, now 30, told the court. But he alleged their relationship changed and became inappropriate with Vadeboncoeur eventually making him feel like a "prostitute."
"Today, for the first time in a while, I don't feel guilty about my existence," Jean-Luc said. "With this trial, I finally respect myself and I understand that I was not guilty."
Vadeboncoeur had already served a prison term in Quebec for sexually abusing minors before moving to France.
Canadian religious authorities had contacted church officials in Evreux in 1987 to tell them of Vadeboncoeur's criminal record, Mayor of Lieurey Elisabeth Simon said, adding that the information had been hidden from the community.
"The church knew, and that disgusts me," the mayor said.
"I take responsibility for what has happened," said Vadeboncoeur at the opening of the trial. "Now, I must accept and assume the consequence of my acts."
The victim, Jean-Luc, came forward to Bishop Jacques David in 2000. The assaults took place in the Normandy village of Lieurey from February 1990 to August 1993.
Vadeboncoeur faced charges of rape and abuse of authority.