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French court allows release of film about priest accused of paedophilia

François Ozon's film Grace à Dieu
François Ozon's film Grace à Dieu Reprodução

A Paris court has authorised the release of a controversial film about the campaign by the alleged victims of a priest in Lyons who has been accused of paedophilia.

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The priest's lawyer argued that the film breaches the principle of presumption of innocence, as the priest has not been tried although he has admitted committing paedophile acts.

Father Bernard Preynat is accused of molesting more than 70 young scouts in the 1980s and 1990s in his diocese of Lyon.

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin and five others are currently appearing before the criminal court of Lyon under charges of failing to report Preynat for sexual abuse of minors.

Preynat has been under judicial supervision since his indictment in 2016 and is due to go on trial this year.

The story of how the Church tried to cover up the scandal, told through the eyes of the victims, is the subject of François Ozon’s film Grace à Dieu (By the Grace of God). On Saturday it won the Grand Jury prize at the Berlin Film Festival.

At a press conference ahead of the film’s world premiere, Ozon said he’d remained true to the facts and his portrayal of what happened could not have an impact on the trial.

"Everything I talk about in the film has already appeared in the French press," he pointed out.

Meanwhile French prosecutors announced Friday they were investigating a sexual assault complaint made against the Vatican's envoy to Paris, 74-year-old Luigi Ventura.

Ventura is accused of molesting an official at the Paris mayor's office, according to a judicial source.

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