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CRIME

French priest, 90, found murdered had been accused of sex offences

A 90-year-old priest found battered to death at his home in northern France had been under investigation for sexual offences against boys, it has been revealed.

French priest, 90, found murdered had been accused of sex offences
Photo: AFP

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.

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CRIME

How France plans to prevents youngsters accessing online pornography

France is set to announce new measures this week to prevent youngsters from accessing porn websites, in the latest round of a years-long struggle to protect children from explicit material.

How France plans to prevents youngsters accessing online pornography

“I plan to put an end to this scandal,” Digital Affairs Minister Jean-Noel Barrot told the Parisien newspaper on Monday.

France’s data protection and media regulators Cnil and Arcom are set to announce their latest proposals to rein in porn websites which are in theory subject to a 2020 law requiring age verification.

Previous attempts have been held up by privacy and technical concerns, as well as court action by the websites.

To its frustration last September, a Paris court ordered Arcom to enter into mediation with several porn websites including market leader Pornhub, holding up efforts to block them.

READ MORE: France hits Google and Facebook with huge fines over ‘cookies’

Under the new proposal, people wanting to access explicit material will need to download a phone application that provides them with a digital certificate and code, the Parisien reported.

The code will be needed to access a porn website under a system “which will work a bit like the checks from your bank when you buy something online,” Barrot told the newspaper.

“2023 will mark the end of our children accessing pornographic sites,” he added.

President Emmanuel Macron, who is married to former school teacher Brigitte Macron, promised to make protecting children from porn a priority during his bid for re-election last year.

In November, he launched the Children Online Protection Laboratory, an initiative that aims to bring together industry giants and researchers to look for ways to shield minors online.

In September last year, a report entitled “Hell Behind the Scenes” by French senators concluded that there was “massive, ordinary and toxic” viewing of porn by children.

The report found that two thirds of children aged 15 or less had seen pornographic content.

The French production industry has been roiled by a series of sexual assault cases in recent years in which women have come forward to allege rape, mistreatment and manipulation by directors and fellow actors.

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