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Update, 12/25/2020: Guillaume Aguilar was sentenced to the maximum time of seven years in prison on Dec. 17, in addition to time he is already serving for other crimes against children. He will afterwards be on monitored probation for a period of 10 years, and is required to pay between 4,000 and 10,000 euros to each victim.
SAINT-MALO, France (ChurchMilitant.com) - A teacher at a Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) school in France stood trial for reportedly abusing 13 children, and victims' attorneys are blasting the SSPX for enabling the abuse.
French media is reporting that on Nov. 12, Guillaume Aguilar — a former soldier — stood trial for multiple counts of sexual assault that took place from 1996–2001 at Sainte-Marie Academy, in Saint-Père-Marc-en-Poulet, near Saint-Malo on the northwestern coast of France.
The boys-only school was founded in September 1987 and describes itself as "a Catholic establishment outside contract run by priests of the Society of St. Pius X, founded by Abp. Marcel Lefebvre."
The 52-year-old soldier arrived to Sainte-Marie Academy in the 1990s and regularly stayed overnight in the students' dormitory. He acted as a supervisor during his stays, according to Judge Marilyse Brard at the court hearing.
During the Nov. 12 court testimony, which lasted seven and a half hours, the judge read aloud statements from victims detailing how the soldier groomed them and preyed on them.
After quickly establishing a "climate of trust" with the students and their families, he used his military rank and paraphernalia to lure them — items of fascination to young boys.
One victim around 10 years of age — who screamed in pain while the soldier tried to anally rape him — was given a military gourd and knife in exchange for his silence.
Others of the same age were given a pair of ranger military boots in exchange for performing oral sex on him or masturbating.
Aguilar also encouraged 10-year-old boys to try on army fatigues, taking advantage of the moment by slipping his hand down their pants to fondle their genitals.
And to another young victim, he suggested stripping off his clothes so he could film him on his camcorder, in exchange for "candy and a Mars bar."
"The victims found are disturbed, distraught by these appeals, which have brought back a buried past and the trauma suffered by them," said Judge Brard at the hearing.
Three of the victims, now grown men, were present and in tears. Their attorneys described them as "broken, shattered" men owing to their past abuse.
"The life of my client has become a shipwreck since that day when Guillaume A. put his hand on him," said one lawyer.
A victim now in his thirties sobbed in court, "I now hope to find the strength to move on."
According to French reports, two former students first brought complaints against Aguilar and the school in the mid-2000s. Three more students came forward in 2010 and also filed formal complaints against.
A lengthy investigation ensued, involving more than 1,000 phone calls to 244 former students and their families who were part of the school during the soldier's stint at Sainte-Marie.
By the end of the investigation, a total of 13 victims were identified.
During that time, in an entirely different case involving sex abuse in Var, near the French Riviera in southeastern France, Aguilar was found guilty of child rape of multiple victims and was sentenced in 2005 by the criminal court in Draguignan to 16 years imprisonment.
Released early, he remains in pre-trial detention in connection with another child rape case unrelated to Sainte-Marie.
Typical of their modus operandi, Society leadership never went to police when they first learned of his abuse.
"We can, however, speak of non-denunciation of crime and non-assistance to people in danger," said one victim's lawyer about the SSPX's silence.
Even Aguilar's attorney, Karine Helouvry, expressed astonishment "that a school like this with more than questionable methods still exists in 2020."
The prosecutor recommended seven years in prison, the maximum sentence for his crimes.
The perpetrator offered an apology to the victims: "I did not think that what I did would have so many repercussions in the future." He could not precisely say, however, whether there were more than 13 victims.
The judge asked him directly, and he answered, "I do not think so."
"That doesn't mean no," the judge retorted.
Victim's attorney Me Stichelbaut said, "[T]hose who are here, present in this courtroom, know well there aren't only 13 victims"
A father of one victim described the boys who had grown into adults now wracked by suffering, some prey to "addictions" and "serious behavioral problems" following their sexual assaults.
"Our school lives only thanks to the generosity of our benefactors," the SSPX school website notes, featuring an image of SSPX founder Abp. Marcel Lefebvre. "You can help us continue this great work," it adds, going on to link to a donation page.
The website features multiple idyllic images of boys of varying ages attending Mass, on field trips, at the beach, playing sports and other activities, alongside priests in cassocks.
While boarding is optional for younger grades, it is compulsory for high school.
Current teaching staff include four priests, three religious brothers and 12 lay teachers.
"Their moral qualities are a guarantee of an authentically Christian and human atmosphere," the website notes.
As Church Militant previously reported, Sainte-Marie is the site of another SSPX scandal involving allegations against Fr. Guillaume d'Orsanne, a priest of the SSPX currently assigned to the famous Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet in Paris.
D'Orsanne was accused by a former student in 2017 of child sex abuse, accusations made known to then-superior general Bp. Bernard Fellay and his assistant, Fr. Alain-Marc Nély. His local superior, Fr. Christian Bouchacourt, refused to take any action against him.
Bouchacourt is now assistant to the current SSPX superior general, Fr. Pagliarani.
Fellay left the priest at his assignment at l'École Sainte-Marie in spite of the allegation. D'Orsanne vigorously denies the allegations and has argued that the alleged victim never brought charges against him. However, Church Militant has confirmed the reason is because the statute of limitations has already passed and prevents prosecution, and that police continue to investigate D'Orsanne and are seeking out other victims.
After a brief reassignment at French district headquarters in Suresnes, just outside of Paris, d'Orsanne was moved just this summer to his post at Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet, a church swarming with children. The parents of the alleged victim are reportedly outraged.