What we know about rape accusations in an Orthodox monastery

In a document published by the daily Releasethree brothers testify to the rapes they allegedly suffered in the monastery of Saint-Nicolas de la Dalmerie, in Hérault.

What are the victims saying?

In their testimony, the three brothers denounce acts of pedocrime of which they would have been victims. The facts would have taken place at the end of the 1970s, within this monastery in the Hérault. They would have been victims of rape, during three summers in a row, between 1978 and 1980. The first time they were 8, 10 and 12 years old. Their torturer would be an old monk at the time of about thirty years. A man now deceased. The oldest of the brothers explains that he was also raped by another priest of the establishment.

What legal consequences?

The three brothers filed a complaint with the gendarmerie in 2008 and 2009. But, under the statute of limitations, these complaints were dismissed. It is only recently that the limitation periods for this type of crime have been extended to 30 years, starting from the age of majority. In 2008 and 2009, they were still only 20 years old. The damage suffered can therefore never be repaired legally. Especially since the monks they designate are now deceased. The youngest of the brothers applied for foreclosure statement. If accepted, it would allow compensation from the victims’ guarantee fund.

What is the monastery’s response?

Contacted by Release, the current head of the monastery claims to believe the victims, but explains that he did not detect any of these facts at the time, when he was not the head of the monastery. On the other hand, he explains to the daily newspaper to have been aware of consented relations of the two men with other minors. “It was not uncommon for them to have relationships with teenagers. In general rather 16 years (…) These facts are an abscess in the history of this monastery, I assume it today. I make a solemn commitment that none of this will happen again”, quotes the daily.

What is the response of the Orthodox Church?

It was immediate. In a press release, Metropolitan Dimitrios of France, head of the Orthodox Church of France, evokes his “deep horror at the horrors suffered and the suffering endured since”. The head of the Orthodox Church in France, enthroned in September 2021, offers the victims, “if they want to, to meet them”. He judges their speech (…) founded” and the judge “beneficial for the search and establishment of the truth. »

What consequences within the Orthodox Church?

The Orthodox Church announces the opening of an internal investigation. “It is with great sadness that we note the lack of vigilance from which these pedocriminals were then able to benefit, claiming to be part of the institution (…) which they have dishonoured”, continues Metropolitan Dimitrios. “We undertake to carry out without delay an open and transparent investigation into this monastery, its past and its present. To remain attentive to any new case that may arise in this context or any other under our authority and to cooperate with the public authorities”.

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