A French court today (February 27, 2014) acquitted a 69-year-old priest of raping a devout and vulnerable parishioner, the Global Post website reports.
Daniel Lagnien, 69, was accused of taking advantage of a 39-year-old woman described as psychologically frail with no sexual experience, in a case with the potential to inflict further damage on the reputation of the Roman Catholic clergy after years of hundreds of sexual scandals.
The prosecution had alleged that Lagnien made advances to the virgin during a 2010 pilgrimage to a shrine in the French Alps. Several days later, she went to the priest's home in Moirans-en-Montagne, Jura seeking an explanation of his behavior.
Instead, the prosecution said, the priest took her into a bedroom and raped her. Lagnien said he had not forced his parishioner into sex, and believed that she had consented.
The prosecutor had also said Lagnien had changed his story, initially confessing while in police custody to rape, and later saying that he had not forced the woman into a sexual relationship.