Renowned Catholic figure Jean Vanier has been accused of sexual manipulation and abuse


February 22, 2020

By Anya van Wagtendonk

Once considered a near-saint, Vanier is accused of sexual abuse by six women.

L’Arche founder Jean Vanier speaks at a London press conference in 2015. Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images
A man venerated in Catholic circles and beyond is alleged to have sexually abused six women over the course of decades, according to an internal report commissioned by the charity that he founded.

Jean Vanier, a Canadian who founded the nonprofit L’Arche to serve adults with intellectual disabilities, and who died last year at age 90, engaged in “manipulative and emotionally abusive” sexual relationships with at least six women under the guise of providing spiritual guidance, according to a report conducted by L’Arche and released on its website Saturday.

Between 1970 and 2005, Vanier allegedly exerted a “psychological hold” over his alleged victims, all women living in France, and none of whom had disabilities themselves. The report does not conclude whether there were additional alleged victims beyond the six who came forward and detailed their abuse.

“The women each report that Jean Vanier initiated sexual behaviours with them, usually in the context of spiritual accompaniment. Some of these women have been deeply wounded by these experiences,” reads a summary of the report released by L’Arche International. The report found the allegations to be “credible.”

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