Father Roger Matassoli was found dead in his home on the Oise département on Monday. Police say he had suffered blows to the abdomen, skull and face and there were also traces of asphyxia, although officers refused to respond to reports in the French media that a crucifix had been placed in his throat.
The cleric had served as the parish priest of Froissy from 1988 to 2009, when he was removed from the ministry after accusations of sexual assault.
“In 2009, having heard a victim, I took measures against Fr Matassoli to remove him from the public exercise of the ministry,” said a spokesman for the local diocese.
“After a civil complaint was filed, a canonical procedure was initiated to hear known victims. Fr Matassoli was then banned from any ministry, even private.”
The Beauvais public prosecutor's office reported two complaints in 2018 “concerning sexual assaults committed on two young boys when, aged 10 to 14, they were altar boys in Father Matassoli's parish”.
The case was not proceeded with because under French law the complaints were time-barred, since they were committed in 1962 for one of the victims, and between 1976 and 1980 for the other.
A 19-year-old local man has been arrested on suspicion of the murder of the priest, but has been hospitalised due to what police described as serious mental health issues.