French Priest Wanted by Canada for Sexually Assaulting Inuit Children Dies

Sat Apr 13 2024
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MONTREAL, Canada: A French priest wanted by Canada for sexually abusing Inuit children more than 30 years ago but who avoided extradition and prosecution has died, a Catholic missionary group said Friday.

In the Canadian north, the case of priest Johannes Rivoire remains a symbol of impunity for sexual abusers in the church.

The Oblates of Mary Immaculate confirmed that Rivoire, who lived in France, died on April 11 after a long illness. He was 93.

“We recognize that this news will be difficult for many to receive, especially for the survivors and their families who advocated for him to face justice in Canada,” a statement said.

“We sincerely regret that despite all their efforts, Rivoire never made himself available and will never face the charges that were laid against him. We further regret that efforts for him to be formally removed as a priest were unsuccessful.”

Rivoire spent three decades as a missionary in Canada’s far north, but left the country in 1993.

Between 1998 and 2017, a warrant was issued for his arrest for sexually abusing three minors.

A new arrest warrant was issued in 2022, and an Inuit delegation later traveled to the Vatican to ask Pope Francis to personally intervene in the case.

It was hoped the Pope would pressure Rivoire to return to Canada to stand trial or face prosecution in France.

Rivoire denied the charges and Canada’s extradition request was rejected by France.

Marc Miller, who was Canada’s Crown-Indigenous relations minister at the time, said it was “heartbreaking to see this grave injustice continue.”

A panel led by a Quebec Superior Court judge concluded last month that based on a “preponderance of evidence,” Rivoire was guilty of sexually assaulting five children in Naujaat, Nunavut, between 1968 and 1970, and one child in Arviat and Whale Cove, Nunavut, between in 1974 and 1979.

Piita Irniq, who spent three decades seeking justice for Rivoire’s victims including a childhood friend, said that he was “disappointed that Canada wasn’t able to get him back here to stand trial for his horrific crimes against Inuit children.”

Steven Mapsalak, a victim who was part of an Inuit delegation that traveled to France and confronted Rivoire, said: “I’m happy that he’s gone. He was an asshole and a liar. Good riddance.”

He further said: “I told him in my own language that he did really bad things to me and I felt that I was at least owed from him an apology. I never got it.”


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