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(Ouest-France) - Father Pierre de Maillard, from the traditionalist Christian community Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), is appearing before the Court of Assizes in the Vendée, at La Roche-sur-Yon. There are 27 victims, some of them still minors, who accuse him of rape and sexual assault between 1995 and 2020.
In order to accommodate more than 50 plaintiffs, they once considered relocating the trial to a hotel for more space. It is finally taking place in court at La Roche-sur-Yon (Vendée), in the Court of Assizes, where Fr. Pierre de Maillard, 57 years old, will appear from Monday, May 22, to Thursday, June 2, 2023.
In nine days of hearings, the court will have to determine whether or not he is guilty of the charges against him: rapes and sexual assaults, especially on minors, aggravated by abuse of the authority conferred by his role as a cleric, as well as corruption of minors.
Twenty-seven plaintiffs, currently 14–40 years of age, claim that these events took place between 1995 and 2020, "mostly in the Vendée," according to public prosecutor Emmanuelle Lepissier.
It is in an SSPX priory in Bocage in the Vendée, at Saint-Germain-de-Prinçay, that Pierre de Maillard was assigned since 2010, when the first complaint was lodged with law enforcement in Herbiers, on July 9, 2020.
A second complaint followed on July 11. The investigation was then entrusted to the research brigade in La Roche-sur-Yon, which identified 19 victims at first.
Meanwhile, "isolated" by the Society in a priory in the south of France, at Montgardin (Haute-Alpes), Pierre de Maillard was placed under arrest on Oct. 12, 2020, then indicted and imprisoned.
During the course of the investigation, a total of 27 victims reported the events in the Vendée — in the priory of Saint-Germain-de-Prinçay and in children's homes — but also in Ain, Gironde, Charente-Maritime and Yvelines, according to the assignments and relocations of the priest.
In Belgium and in the east of France, where Pierre de Maillard also worked, the investigations did not reveal anything. The priest faces up to 20 years in prison. Contacted by Ouest-France, Bernard Maillard, attorney for the accused, did not wish to comment.
The oldest claims date back to 1995, two years after the ordination of Pierre de Maillard, in 1993.
"Throughout this trial, what will interest the court, the victims and their relatives, is how this could have gone on for 25 years, without anyone putting a stop to it," said Lionel Béthune de Moro, attorney for 24 victims, along with his colleague, Hugues de Lacost Lareymondie.
"Some victims are critical of what they have suffered, and question the responsibility of other individuals, private or public," Bethune de Moro explained.
He represents three victims, "who were concerned not to be represented by attorneys for the Society," de Lacost Lareymondie having represented the SSPX in previous trials.
"The victims were silent, as they often are in this type of case. Suddenly, someone decided to speak," relates de Lacoste Lareymondie. According to our information, it was within a brotherhood of victims that the silence was broken.
"But almost from the beginning, there have been people, private and public, who knew the facts. The accused was even confronted, but no one went to see the authorities," clarifies Béthune de Moro.
Read the rest of the article in the original French.
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