Last month, another 38-year-old priest, Jean-Baptiste Sebe, killed himself in the northern French town of Rouen after being accused by a mother that her adult daughter had been a victim of “indecent behavior and sexual assault,” according to AFP.
Prosecutor Loic Abrial told the AFP that Fumery was questioned about sexual assault allegations involving a child under the age of 15 last week.
Jacques Blaquart, the bishop of Orléans, whose diocese includes Gien, said it was a “moment of suffering and a tragic ordeal,” according to AFP.
Some members of Fumery’s parish had complained of “inappropriate behavior” on the part of the priest toward children between the ages of 13 and 15. One such example was a girl “that he took in his arms and drove home several times,” Blaquart said, according to local reports.
Blaquart had told Fumery to take some time off to seek counseling and leave town after the allegations surfaced but said the claims did not merit being reported to the authorities, the BBC and AFP reported. The priest had only recently returned to Gien after a break.
Scrutiny on the issue of child sexual abuse has intensified in the wake of an August report from a grand jury in Pennsylvania that found more than 300 Catholic priests had abused children over seven decades while they were protected by church leaders.
The product of an 18-month investigation into six dioceses in the state, the report identified at least 1,000 child victims and noted that there were probably thousands more.
The Justice Department has launched an investigation into the allegations, it was disclosed last week.
The Washington Post’s Devlin Barrett, Julie Zauzmer and Michelle Boorstein wrote:
The decision to launch such a probe, even one limited to a single state, is noteworthy because the federal government has long shied away from tackling allegations that the church spent decades hiding the extent of the sexual abuse problem among its priests and that it allowed pedophiles to continue to work and live undetected in communities.