A priest from France accused of sexually assaulting children in the Canadian Artic has died

Associated Press [New York NY]

April 12, 2024

By Associated Press

Joannes Rivoire, a priest from France who was accused of sexually abusing Inuit children when he served at the mission in their Canadian Arctic community, has died after a long illness, officials said Friday.

The Oblates of Lacombe Canada and the Oblate Province of France said that Rivoire, who was in his 90s, died on Thursday. He had lived for years at a care home in Lyon, France.

An Inuit community in northern Canada has long sought Vatican’s assistance to get Rivoire extradited. He ministered to Inuit communities until he left in the 1990s and returned to France. Canadian authorities issued an arrest warrant for him in 1998 over several counts of sexual abuse.

Rev. Ken Thorson with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate Lacombe Canada said in an email that the death may be difficult news for those who advocated for the priest to face justice in Canada.

“We sincerely regret that,” Thorson wrote. “Rivoire never made himself available and will never face the charges that were laid against him. We further regret that efforts for him to be formally removed as a priest were unsuccessful.”

Rivoire arrived in Canada in 1959. He stayed in the North until January 1993, when he told superiors he needed to return to France to take care of his elderly parents.

That same month, four people went to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the northern territory of Nunavut to accuse Rivoire of sexual assaults.

An arrest warrant was issued in 1998 for Rivoire to return to Canada to face at least three charges of sexual abuse. The charges were not pursued.

Another arrest warrant was issued for Rivoire in 2022 for a charge of indecent assault involving a girl between 1974 and 1979. French authorities refused an extradition request.

Rivoire denied all allegations against him and none were proven in court.

The Oblates in Canada and France repeatedly urged Rivoire to face the charges, but he refused.

In September 2022, a 10-member Inuit delegation travelled to Lyon, hoping to persuade Rivoire to return with them to Canada to face justice. But the Oblate priest refused and denied wrongdoing.