PARIS (AP) — A French bishop has been given a preliminary charge of attempting to rape an adult man a decade ago, the Paris prosecutor’s office said Monday. It is the latest of a growing number of accusations of in France.
The Bishops' Conference of France said the accused bishop, Georges Colomb, contests the charge and deserves the presumption of innocence. He has asked to step aside from his duties as bishop of La Rochelle and Saintes in western France to prepare his defense.
French investigative website Mediapart reported that senior figures in the Catholic Church were aware of the accusations for years.
The allegations didn't reach prosecutors until May of this year. That's when lawyers for the Archdiocese of Paris and a Catholic group called the Foreign Missions of Paris, shortened to MEP in French, submitted a report of a rape attempt by Colomb in 2013, according to the prosecutor’s office.
Colomb headed the MEP from 2010 to 2016, and his accuser was staying in MEP facilities at the time of the incident, according to French media reports. Colomb became a bishop in 2016.