Court jails former French priest for sexually abusing boy scouts

PARIS (Reuters) – A French court on Monday convicted a former Roman Catholic priest of sexually abusing children and sentenced him to five years in jail, his lawyer said.

Bernard Preynat was found guilty of abusing dozens of boy scouts in the 1980s and early 1990s. Prosecutors had portrayed the 74-year-old as a serial pedophile and said he preyed on children entrusted to his care by their parents.

Preynat told the court he had not understood how grave his acts were nor how traumatic the consequences would be for his victims.

“These were non-violent acts, acts of tenderness from which I derived a certain pleasure. It took me time to learn it was wrong and condemned given the age of the children,” he testified.

Prosecutors had sought an eight-year jail term.

(Reporting by Catherine Lagrange; Editing by Richard Lough, Dominique Vidalon)