Prosecutors in France have dropped the investigation into the sexual abuse of prominent Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard (78). The former Archbishop of Bordeaux had admitted publicly in November that he had “acted disapprovingly” towards a young girl 35 years ago.
Justice says that no prosecution will be initiated because the case has expired. The period for initiating criminal proceedings can be extended if the victim was a minor at the time the crimes were committed, but this is not done in this case. It is unclear why this was waived.
The Vatican has opened its own investigations against Rijkaard and may still be able to impose sanctions against him. Cardinal was arrested earlier this month. He is now free.
Ricard told French police investigators that he “kissed” the girl when she was 13. He also said he hugged her and “caressed her clothes”. According to him, there was no sexual contact at all. The victim alleged that he was sexually assaulted three years ago.
The president of the French Bishops’ Conference announced in November that 11 bishops were under investigation for sexual assault. Eight of them are still in their positions, and three of them are retired. Inquiries are conducted through canon law in Rome and through the French judiciary.
An independent study last year found that French clergy had abused more than 200,000 children over the past 70 years, most of them boys between the ages of 6 and 15. According to the researchers, the Church ignored this for a long time.
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