The procedure opened for sexual assault on a vulnerable person after a report from the diocese of Paris targeting the former archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit was dismissed on August 23 for lack of an offense, the prosecution announced Thursday, September 14, requested by the Agence France-Presse (AFP).
“Mgr Aupetit approached the opening of this investigation with serenity because he was certain that it could only end in a dismissal. He can continue to act in his pastoral mission without there being any difficulty from now on,” his lawyer, Me Jean Reinhart, told AFP.
Michel Aupetit was heard in open hearing on June 9 and “maintained never having had a sentimental or sexual relationship with the woman concerned,” said the prosecution. “She told investigators that she had a clear memory of the situations mentioned. She considered that they did not constitute any criminal offense, she did not file a complaint,” added the prosecution. “Nothing being likely to be qualified criminally”, the procedure was therefore closed without further action.
Resignation in November 2021
The investigation was opened in December 2022 after a report from the diocese of Paris and the investigations were entrusted to the brigade for the suppression of personal delinquency. They concerned the written exchanges between Michel Aupetit and a parishioner who was the subject of a judicial protection measure, whose apparent consent must be confirmed with regard to her mental health. According to Me Reinhart, there were never any “inappropriate gestures” on the part of his client.
Michel Aupetit, at the head of the archbishopric of Paris since December 2017, presented his resignation at the end of November 2021 to Pope Francis, who immediately accepted it, after several newspapers had attributed to him a romantic relationship with another woman – this which he had categorically denied. He was then also very controversial for his management of human resources in the diocese.
Entering the priesthood late – he was ordained at the age of 44 after practicing medicine for eleven years – Michel Aupetit, 72, exercised various ministries as vicar, parish priest and chaplain to young people, before to be appointed bishop.
The archbishop, who had to manage the fire at Notre-Dame de Paris in 2019, is known for his strict positions on the family and bioethics: he notably supported the “marches for life” hostile to the interruption voluntary pregnancy. He also had trouble with the homosexual community in 2012 during the debates on equal marriage.
Still considered a bishop (emeritus) by the Vatican, Mgr Aupetit settled, after his resignation, in a former Toulouse abbey. According to his advice, he “dedicates his pastoral mission” to associations helping the poor throughout France.