NEW YORK (NY)
February 22, 2020
By Michael J. O’Loughlin
When Jean Vanier, the charismatic founder of a global network of institutions serving adults with physical and intellectual disabilities, died last May, tributes poured in from around the world, with The New York Times describing him in an obituary as a “savior of people on the margins.” Less than a year later, one of the communities he founded, L’Arche, finds itself confronting troubling details of Mr. Vanier’s past, including his participation in a shadowy group with ties to a priest accused of sexual and spiritual abuse, lies related to what Mr. Vanier knew about that priest and allegations from women who say Mr. Vanier engaged in similar behavior over several decades.
In a report that will soon be released conducted by L’Arche, Mr. Vanier is accused of sexual misconduct with six adult, non-disabled women who sought spiritual direction from the late activist, author and philosopher. According to a press release from L’Arche USA, the investigation “reveals that Jean Vanier himself has been accused of manipulative sexual relationships and emotional abuse between 1970 and 2005, usually within a relational context where he exercised significant power and a psychological hold over the alleged victims.”
According to the release, the inquiry “has found the allegations to be credible.”
According to L’Arche USA, an investigation “reveals that Jean Vanier himself has been accused of manipulative sexual relationships and emotional abuse between 1970 and 2005.”
“Independently from one another, the witnesses describe similar occurrences, which had a long-lasting and negative impact on their personal lives and subsequent relationships.”
The investigation, commissioned by L’Arche International in 2019 shortly before Mr. Vanier’s death, found that Mr. Vanier engaged in unethical and abusive behavior with the women that mirrored the abusive behavior committed by his spiritual mentor and an early advisor to his organizations, the Rev. Thomas Philippe, who died in 1993.
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