Founder Of Global Disability Group Accused Of Sex Abuse
The founder of an international network of communities where adults with and without intellectual disabilities live and work together sexually abused a half-dozen women, the group said.
In a report issued over the weekend, L’Arche International said that its founder Jean Vanier engaged in “manipulative sexual relationships” between 1970 and 2005 with six women who were not linked to each other, but who all described similar events. None of the women had disabilities.
Vanier, who died last year at the age of 90, started L’Arche after he invited two men with intellectual disabilities who had been living in an institution to move into a small home with him in Trosly-Breuil, France in 1964.
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Today, L’Arche has more than 150 communities in 38 countries, including at least 17 in the U.S.
L’Arche said it initiated an investigation, which was conducted by U.K.-based GCPS Consulting, after receiving a second allegation against Vanier in March 2019.
The report indicates that Vanier, who was a prominent Catholic, often gave the women “mystical and spiritual” justifications for sexual behavior and had a “psychological hold” over them.
It also details similar allegations against Rev. Thomas Philippe, a priest who Vanier described as his “spiritual father” and the person who Vanier said called him to found L’Arche. Philippe was involved with the L’Arche community in France until he died in 1993.
L’Arche International’s leaders acknowledged that further information may yet come to light and they committed to “a thorough evaluation of our current measures to prevent abuse and protect persons with and without disabilities, including the way in which reports, past or recent, have been handled in our federation.”
Tina Bovermann, executive director of L’Arche USA, called the report’s findings “shocking and saddening” in a public letter. She said the group knows of no similar allegations in the U.S.