A 19-year-old man has been arrested for killing a suspected paedophile priest by ramming a crucifix down his throat and suffocating him.
Alexandre V., who is alleged to have been abused by the priest, attacked the 91-year-old Catholic Roger Matassoli at the holy figure’s home in Agnetz, Oise, northern France.
Matassoli had been accused of sexually abusing at least four boys, including Alexandre and Alexandre’s father, between 1960 and 2000.
The priest had to be shifted from the diocese of Clermont in 1967 to the diocese of Saint-Andre-Farivillers, and was then moved to Agnetz, following allegations of paedophilia, reports Franceinfo. And yet he remained on the church’s payroll until 2018.
The attacker, whose full name has not been published, was arrested and charged with torture, murder and resisting arrest.
The priest’s body was found in his home with signs of torture on November 4.
Alexandre, who worked as a housekeeper in Matassoli’s home, was caught by authorities attempting to escape in the holy man’s car and arrested on the same day.
However, he was transferred to hospital due to alleged psychiatric problems and was not formally charged until December 26.
The suspect had tried to kill himself after being abused by the priest, according to the suspect’s father Stephane, who has also claimed that his father killed himself when he learnt how his son had been abused by the priest.
Speaking about the priest’s impact on his family to French media, Stephane said the priest had ‘shattered a whole family’.
Police are investigating the case on the grounds that the killing was an act of revenge, reports French media. Alexandre has also told investigators he has no recollection of the events.
The priest is also alleged to have abused a man when he was aged between six and 15 years old in Saint-Andre-Farivillers, Franceinfo reports.
The victim’s sister Colette, who has made the claims, told the broadcaster that everyone in the village knew the rumours but no one took any action.
She also said that when a picture of Matassoli stripped naked was found in a landfill it was brushed aside, after the priest claimed it was taken when he was 18 years old and in the army.
‘(But) he did not look like an 18-year-old boy in this photo,’ she said, before adding that young boys were invited to the priest’s home in the village every Thursday.
The priest had been officially removed from church duties in 2009 following the first allegations of abuse but was kept on the payroll for another ten years, Beauvais bishop Jacques Benoit-Gonnin has revealed.
He was only removed after the bishop took into account the testimony of at least two alleged victims, and has claimed he was still paid due to ‘ecclesiastical errors’.
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