Jury returns verdict in ‘horror’ trial of Fr. Pierre de Maillard.
VENDÉE, France (ChurchMilitant.com) – A priest of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) has been found guilty on all charges involving sex abuse of more than two dozen children.
The jury returned its verdict Friday evening against Fr. Pierre de Maillard, charged with four counts of rape and 33 sexual assaults against 27 children over the course of 25 years. The crimes took place in his SSPX assignments in the Vendée and elsewhere.
The court agreed with public prosecutor, Emmanuelle Lepissier, in adopting most of her recommendations: Maillard will receive the maximum possible sentence: 20 years behind bars, two-thirds of that time without the possibility of parole.
This will be followed by a 10-year probation period that will require that Maillard receive treatment. Failure to follow the rules of probation could result in another five years in prison.
Lionel Béthune de Moro, who represented the victims, lauded the “exemplary and long-awaited punishment in view of the extraordinary nature of the multiple criminal acts brought before the Assize Court against a defendant who himself claims to be a paedophile.”
Maillard is banned from ever returning to the Vendée or neighboring Charente-Maritime, or being around children. He is also required to register as a sex offender.
This marks the end of a two-week trial beginning May 22 in the Court of Assizes in La Roche-Sur-Yon, in the Vendée region in western France.
Some likened the trial to a “horror film,” as victim testimony behind closed doors revealed Maillard’s penchant for making his victims watch pornography (his favorite site was 666porn) and using oils and music to massage his victims before assaulting them, among other details.
At least two victims collapsed during trial. According to Ouest-France, “On Tuesday May 30, a complainant testifying at the trial of Abbé de Maillard collapsed in the middle of the hearing. … The victim, still a minor, reportedly couldn’t stand the priest’s denials.”
Maillard in fact changed his testimony, denying ever having committed any abuse, while at other times admitting to the sexual assaults but denying the rapes.
The priestly ministry “confers more duties than rights,” said victims’ attorney Lionel Béthune de Moro. “The accused may have helped the victims at one point in their lives, but today he claims to be a pedophile. It’s chilling.”
Alluding to the silence of those in the know regarding Maillard’s abuse, de Moro added, “As soon as you become aware of sexual violence, whether you’re a parent or a parishioner, you have to report it to the law.”
According to Ouest-France, another trial may await the 56-year-old priest: “[T]hree complaints have been lodged in recent weeks. This could lead to a new judicial investigation and, ultimately, a second trial.”
SSPX Kept Predator in Ministry
As Church Militant reported, the French district superior had been made aware of abuse allegations years before but never reported Maillard to police.
During the second week of trial, a victim confronted de Jorna: “I reported the events to you back in 2017. Why did nothing happen? I don’t understand.”
De Jorna dismissed the question: “All you had to do was file a complaint.”
“I have a real feeling of bitterness,” said the same victim. “We’re not talking about one blunder but three” — referring to other allegations reported to the SSPX and not taken seriously.
“They knew and hid it,” said other victims of Maillard. “They told the victims to keep quiet because it would discredit the Society. But for them, it’s the Society that will save the Church, and it’s the Church that will save the world. Many continue to remain silent because of this.”
At trial it was also revealed that in 2013, over “minor” incidents with children, the SSPX placed a ban on Maillard from being around children, which included 10 years from working in a school or children’s camps or hearing children’s confessions, and a five-year ban on catechizing children.
The Society, however, never followed through on the ban, which led to Maillard having access to children and abusing again.
The SSPX has a track record of failing to follow through on its bans of predator priests, leading to further victimization of children.
Maillard was arrested in October 2020, two days after Church Militant reported that the accused pedophile was living at the SSPX retreat house (the “Golden Prison”) in Montgardin, France, where he had been sent to do “prayer and penance.” An initial investigation turned up 19 victims, but further questioning revealed 27.
The guilty verdict follows two months after another SSPX priest, Fr. Matthew Stafki, pled guilty to molesting his 9-year-old niece over the course of three years in Minnesota. Stafki is facing up to 25 years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for June 23.
Church Militant emailed SSPX leadership asking for comment on Maillard’s verdict but received no immediate response.
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