You are not signed in as a Premium user; you are viewing the free version of this program. Premium users have access to full-length programs with limited commercials and receive a 10% discount in the store! Sign up for only one day for the low cost of $1.99. Click the button below.
VENDÉE, France (ChurchMilitant.com) - A priest of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) will be put on trial in France after being indicted for abusing 27 children.
Church Militant has confirmed the trial begins May 22 in the Cour d'Assises (Court of Assizes) at la Roche-sur-Yon, in the Vendée in western France, and will continue for two weeks until June 2.
While trials are normally public in France, a source has confirmed with Church Militant that the SSPX has insisted on secrecy, and that this trial will be closed to the public.
Maillard is being charged for "rape of a minor under 15 years of age, rape committed by a person abusing his authority ... attempted rape ... sexual aggression on a minor over 15 years of age by a person with authority over the victim ... corruption of minors."
The crimes are believed to have taken place over the course of 25 years, from 1995 to May 31, 2020, in the Vendée and Charente-Maritime, as well as Ain, Gironde and Yvelines.
Maillard was arrested in October 2020, two days after Church Militant reported that the accused pedophile was living at the SSPX retreat house in Montgardin, France. The retreat house is nicknamed the "Golden Prison" because problem priests are often sent there — without the knowledge of locals.
A priest of nearly 30 years, Maillard had been sent to Montgardin earlier that summer to serve out a period of "prayer and penance" after the allegations of abuse arose. It is the typical modus operandi of the Society, which has taken the same course of action with numerous sexual predators. Many are reinstated to active ministry, where they often go on to abuse again.
Two complaints against the 55-year-old priest had been filed in July 2020. As Church Militant first reported, after parents reported the abuse, Fr. Laurent Ramé, Maillard's former superior at Our Lady of the Rosary priory in Saint-Germain-de-Prinçay, informed SSPX district headquarters in Suresnes, just outside Paris.
Ramé also went to law enforcement (the brigade de gendarmerie in Chantonnay).
Superior General Davide Pagliarani then suspended Maillard, quietly sending him off to Montgardin. Most of the locals had no idea an accused sexual predator was living in their community.
Church Militant reported on his whereabouts in an Oct. 10, 2020 report, and a French version of the article began circulating in France. Within two days, Maillard was arrested and taken into custody.
An initial investigation turned up 19 alleged victims. In the ensuing investigation, 27 accusers have come forward to denounce Maillard.
"The aggressor must pay," said Fr. Ramé to local media at the time. In spite of his tough talk, sources suspect Ramé may have been aware of allegations of abuse against Maillard but left him in ministry.
According to one French source with knowledge, "[T]he de Maillard incident is NOT the first time that sex abuse has been in the chapel in the Vendée and ... Ramé and his superiors know this very well."
Both Ramé and French district superior Benôit de Jorna are expected to be called to testify at trial.
De Jorna made the SSPX stand out in recent years by being the only priestly community in France that refused to open its clergy archives to the commission investigating sex abuse in France. The Society also refuses to publish a list of credibly accused clergy, in spite of requests from victims and in spite of its repeated claims of "transparency" and "accountability."
Regarding Maillard's trial, the source said, "They are doing everything to hush it up — secret meetings with the faithful. The whitewash is well and truly out."
"The extent to which they are 'encouraging' faithful not to even go near the court house speaks volumes," the source noted.
"Although the actions of de Maillard are reprehensible, so is the conduct of those content to support him whilst they could, and now throw him under the bus. There is clearly 'no honour among thieves,'" the source added, referring to de Jorna and Ramé.
Maillard's abuse reportedly took place at multiple assignments over the years, which included schools and chapels where he offered catechism lessons for children — including in the Vendée, the region where Maillard was raised and which helped shape his views of the world: very much an "us against them" mentality, according to one of Maillard's former parishioners.
The Vendée was the site of the heroic Catholic uprising against the atheistic, freemasonic Reign of Terror during the 18th-century French Revolution, which ended up wiping out around 15% of the local population — referred to as a French "genocide."
Local Catholics, particularly in the countryside, tend to be "very observant, very docile to priests, very secretive," according to the former parishioner, who asked not to be named in order to protect his family, which has suffered sex abuse at the hands of the SSPX. "They don't really like to do anything with outsiders."
"The teaching staff still had this very strong Vendéan spirit of 'Everything that isn't us, everything that isn't really, really conservative Catholic, and everything that isn't royalist ... is alien and should be discouraged,'" he noted, going on to say Maillard "certainly has that spirit."
"He's very entitled," he went on. "He has an aristocratic background. ... He believes that people owe him."
Like most abusers, Maillard would target the vulnerable "working class," he explained, "because he knows they're very docile towards the priests and towards most aristocratic society — because they most likely wouldn't believe their kids, or they would not complain."
"Or he would say, hand on heart, because he was their social superior — because God made him an aristocrat and not a peasant — it is their responsibility to satisfy his needs," he said. "He has that very archaic worldview."
Maillard was born in France on July 31, 1967, and was ordained a priest on June 29, 1993 in Écône, Switzerland. In a tragic twist of irony, he was assigned to Brussels to be successor to pedophile priest Fr. Philippe Peignot, found guilty in 2014 by an SSPX canonical tribunal of child sex abuse.
Peignot's case is particularly egregious because two superiors general — Fr. Franz Schmidberger and Bp. Bernard Fellay — lifted a ban on Peignot that had prohibited him from being around children. Peignot had abused five boys from 1985–1987, his most famous victim Vincent Lambert, the quadriplegic who became a central figure in the end-of-life debate in France.
It was in fact Peignot's abuse that led Lambert on a downward spiral of drinking and drugs, culminating in the drunk driving accident that landed him in the hospital with a broken back.
Peignot's crimes were never reported to police by his superiors. Instead, he was sent to Lourdes to do a year of "prayer and penance" before being returned to priestly ministry, where he abused again.
It would take the Vatican ordering the SSPX in 2013 to initiate a canonical trial against Peignot that would lead to his exit from the Society. He sought refuge in Bp. Richard Williamson's Resistance, where the pederast priest ministers to this day, with free access to boys.
Some years later, another pedophile priest, Fr. Frédéric Abbet, would be assigned to live in the Brussels priory under the same roof as young boys whom he would go on to abuse — thanks to Bp. Fellay once again ignoring a ban forbidding Abbet from being around children.
Thus the SSPX Brussels priory bears the distinction of having housed at least three pedophile priests.
Maillard left Brussels in 1997, sent to L'étoile du matin academy in Eguelshardt, in Lorraine, France, where he worked with children until his next assignment in Conflans-Ste-Honorine, a chapel served by the priory of Mantes-la-Jolie, near Paris. There he was placed in charge of catechism lessons to children and teens.
Before his stint in Brussels, Maillard was reportedly ill and seeking prayers after being diagnosed with testicular cancer.
In 2004 he was assigned to the Nantes SSPX priory, where he lived for six years. In 2010, he was tasked with inaugurating the new priory in St-Germain de Prinçay along with Fr. Ramé. Maillard remained there until 2019, when he was sent to a priory in Gastines, in northwestern France.
Maillard's trial comes just two months after SSPX priest Fr. Matthew Stafki pled guilty to sexually abusing his 9-year-old niece over the course of three years. Stafki had been placed on extended sabbatical at the young age of 32, going back home to Minnesota, where he abused his brother's daughter.
n spite of queries, the U.S. district superior, Fr. John Fullerton, refuses to answer whether Stafki had been placed on leave for prior allegations of abuse. Fullerton also refuses to say whether Catholics' donations were used towards Stafki's criminal defense.
5/21/23: This article was revised to reflect the updated total of alleged victims as well as the years and locations of the abuse.