International

L’Arche charity founder sexually abused women

Vanier had a ‘spiritual hold’ on them

A report reveals that L’Arche founder Jean Vanier, a respected Canadian religious figure whose charity work helped improve conditions for the disabled in multiple countries, sexually abused at least six women. Vanier died last year at age 90.

According to the report seen by the AP on Saturday, the women’s descriptions provide evidence enough to show that Vanier engaged in “manipulative sexual relationships” over a period from 1970 to 2005.

During the inquiry, commissioned by L’Arche last year and carried out by the independent, U.K.-based GCPS Consulting group, six adult, non-disabled women said Vanier had engaged in sexual relations with them as they were seeking spiritual direction. According to the report, the women, who have no links to each other, reported similar facts and Vanier’s sexual misconduct was often associated with alleged “spiritual and mystical justifications.”

‘Deep wounds’

A statement released by L’Arche France on Saturday stressed that some women still have “deep wounds.” Vanier’s actions show “he had a psychological and spiritual hold on these women,” the statement said, adding that nothing suggests that disabled people may have been involved.

Vanier founded the Catholic-inspired charity L’Arche in 1964 as an alternative living environment where those with developmental disabilities could be full-fledged participants in the community instead of patients. The charity now has facilities in 38 countries that are home to thousands of people both with and without disabilities.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 11:38:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/larche-charity-founder-sexually-abused-women/article30890815.ece

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