No longer liable under civil law

No longer liable under civil law

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin (archive photo) © Pierre-Antoine Pluquet (CBA)

The appeal filed against French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin for covering up abuse has been rejected. Barbarin can thus not be held civilly liable by those affected for possible damages.

This is what French media reported on Wednesday. Civil plaintiffs had previously appealed the criminal case, which ended last year, involving sexual assaults they suffered as minors that Babarin failed to report. At that time barbarian was acquitted.

No impact on the criminal aspect

The French Court of Cassation now held that Barbarin's obligation to report the assaults lapsed at the time the victims came of age and were therefore able to report themselves. Demands for compensation payments to Barbarin are thus not in conformity with the law, it was said. The decision of the Court of Cassation has no impact on the criminal aspect of the case.

The legally tricky case had made headlines over several years and legal instances. In early 2020, Barbarin was acquitted of charges of failing to report sexual assault by the Lyon Court of Appeals. During the trial, Barbarin's lawyer as well as the prosecution had argued for an acquittal.

Barbarin's premature resignation from office

Previously, Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon and "Primate of Gaul" from 2002 to March 2020, was found guilty at first instance in March 2019 for failing to report abuse cases and sentenced to six months' probation. Ten former scouts and alleged victims of priest Bernard Preynat appeared as joint plaintiffs.

Barbarin had already been investigated in 2016 for not reporting cases of sexual abuse to state authorities. At the time, the public prosecutor's office closed the case after a few months; there had been no evidence that Barbarin had committed a crime. In a separate trial, the priest Preynat was sentenced to five years in prison in March 2020. The 70-year-old Barbarin has been living in a Breton village near Rennes since his premature resignation from office.

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