Priest sentenced to 12 years in prison for teen rape

A Canadian priest was sentenced to 12 years in prison Wednesday for raping a young member of his Normandy parish.

The trial of Rev. Denis Vadeboncoeur rattled the northern France community where he had worked for more than a decade and sparked outrage over how he was hired and why his past conviction was kept secret.

Vadeboncoeur, 65, who moved to France after serving a 20-month sentence in Quebec, confessed in testimony Monday to repeatedly sexually abusing a boy who was under 15 at the time. The alleged crimes occurred from February 1990 to August 1993 while Vadeboncoeur was a priest at a church in the village of Lieurey.

Public prosecutor Jean Berkani had requested a sentence of 12-15 years in prison followed by a ban from French territory.

The victim, identified by his first name, Jean-Luc, took the stand Tuesday, saying that he initially sought Vadeboncoeur's guidance at his mother's urging because he was having problems at home.

"He was an adult who wasn't strict and understood kids. We could talk about everything with him," Jean-Luc, now 30, testified. He alleged their relationship quickly turned inappropriate, with Vadeboncoeur giving him massages and, eventually, making him feel like a "prostitute."

"Today, for the first time in a while, I don't feel guilty about my existence," Jean-Luc told the court. "With this trial, I finally respect myself and I understand that I was not guilty."

Vadeboncoeur had faced a 20-year sentence for charges of raping a minor and having abused his position of authority.

Vadeboncoeur moved to France in January 1988 to resume his life as a priest after serving a 20-month sentence in a Canadian prison. He had pleaded guilty to two charges of sexual abuse and one of sodomy against four teenage boys there.

Former Evreux Bishop Jacques Gaillot, 70, said he had learned from Canadian religious leaders of Vadeboncoeur's criminal past a few months after the new priest's arrival, the AP reports.

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