The Latest: French cardinal convicted of not reporting abuse

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LYON, France (AP) – The Latest on a church sex abuse trial in France (all times local):

10:15 a.m.

A French court has found top Catholic official Cardinal Philippe Barbarin guilty for failing to report to justice accusations against a pedophile priest.

In a surprise decision Thursday in France’s most important church sex abuse trial, the Lyon court handed Barbarin a six-month suspended prison sentence for not reporting the facts in the period between July 2014 and June 2015. 

The Rev. Bernard Preynat’s alleged victims said Barbarin and other church officials covered up for him for years, but the statute of limitations had expired on some charges and even the victims had expected that the cardinal would be acquitted.

The prosecutor had also argued against convicting, saying there were no grounds to prove legal wrongdoing.

The priest has confessed to abusing Boy Scouts in the 1970s and 80s and will be tried separately.

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8:45 a.m.

A French court is expected to acquit a cardinal and five other defendants accused of protecting a pedophile priest at the end of France’s most important church sex abuse trial.

The Lyon court will deliver its verdict on Thursday morning.

The Rev. Bernard Preynat’s alleged victims said church hierarchy covered up for him for years. But by the time the four-day trial reached court in Lyon last January, the statute of limitations had expired on some charges.

Even the prosecutor argued against convicting Cardinal Philippe Barbarin and other church officials, saying there were no grounds to prove legal wrongdoing.

Barbarin faces up to three years in prison and fines if convicted.

The priest has confessed to abusing Boy Scouts in the 1970s and 80s and will be tried separately.

FILE – In this Jan.7, 2019 file photo, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin listens to his lawyers, Jean-Felix Luciani, 2nd right, and Andre Soulier, back to camera, as he attends the start his trial, in Lyon, central France. A French court on Thursday MARCH 7, 2019 is expected to acquit a cardinal and five other defendants accused of protecting a pedophile priest, but alleged victims say France’s most important church sex abuse trial has at least allowed them to bring the affair into the open. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani, File)
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