A “flabbergasted” former archbishop has denied any wrongdoing after becoming the focus of a sex assault investigation.
Michel Aupetit, who was the Catholic Archbishop of Paris until 2021, is being investigated by French Police after allegations sent in a letter to the Paris archdiocese.
The prosecutor’s office, which was forwarded the letter, said it is investigating a preliminary potential charge of sexual assault on a vulnerable person. The alleged assault by the priest took place several years ago.
Father Michel, who unexpectedly resigned in 2021 after admitting to an "ambiguous" relationship with a woman in 2012, has not seen the letter, according to his lawyer Jean Reinhart.
Mr Reinhart said Fr Michel has not been told who wrote it or what specifically it contains. "My client is flabbergasted, doesn't know what this is about," the lawyer said. "We are completely in the dark."
Fr Michel became Paris archbishop in 2018. Pope Francis accepted his resignation in December 2021 saying he accepted the resignation because Fr Michel could not govern effectively after "gossip" about his relationship with a woman removed his "good name".
The pontiff said there had been "lapses" with Fr Michel involving sexual sins. He said they were not that serious and involved "some caresses and massages".
The French Catholic Church has been overwhelmed by abuse allegations in recent years. A report in 2021 suggested 3,000 French priests had committed sexual abuse over the past 70 years.