Police have questioned a 19-year-old man suspected of murdering a priest and alleged pedophile last month by shoving a crucifix down his throat last month in Oise, France.
The interrogation took place despite the suspect, identified in the media as Alexandre V., being hospitalized for “significant mental problems” according to Franceinfo.
The suspect allegedly suffocated Father Roger Matassoli, 91, by forcing a crucifix down his throat; the priest was found dead at his home.
“We now know that [the suspect’s] father was a victim of the priest,” the suspect’s lawyer told Franceinfo. “We also know that this papa tried to protect his children and then, after the divorce, he fell back into the clutches of Matassoli. Alexandre mentioned facts that were likely to disturb him deeply. There was talk of Alexandre cleaning the house naked for the priest.”
Alexandre and his father were not the first men to accuse Matassoli of sexual abuse. The suspect’s family said that the accusations were widely known, and rumors that the priest had allegedly sexually abused children date back to the 1960s.
“Some people say that he was transferred [in 1967] to Saint-André because he touched children in his other parish in Clermont,” a local woman told Franceinfo, recounting that both of her brothers were abused by the priest. She discovered the abuse when her younger brother, Paul, told her he had showered with the priest. When she approached her older brother, Jacques, then 22, about the incident, he “dissolved into tears,” describing eight years of abuse that included the priest molesting her brother as he sat at the family’s dinner table, among other horrors. The family tried to press charges, but was rebuffed due to a statute of limitations.
The family also confronted the priest, who denied all allegations. “The priest denied the allegations outright. He told Jacques that his sensitivity caused him to tell lies,” the victim’s sister said.
A bishop relieved Matasolli of his duties in 2009, following abuse accusations, Euro Weekly News reported. Matassoli stayed on the bishop’s payroll until 2018.
The priest was the subject of a church investigation shortly before his death. The inquiry was dropped after he died, with no report ever being sent to Rome, according to Franceinfo.
The outlet also noted that three people had contacted the local bishop’s office with information regarding abuse by the priest since July 2018.
According to Euro Weekly News, Alexandre claimed he does not recall the events he’s been accused of.
The Oise Police department did not immediately respond to Newsweek request for comment.
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