The founder of a French charity for people with learning disabilities has been found to have engaged in emotionally and sexually abusive relationships with at least six women that were described as “coercive,” “inappropriate,” and “manipulative,” according to a new internal report. Jean Vanier, a Canadian who died last year in Paris at age 90, founded the L’Arche International in 1964. The Catholic organization has reportedly fostered more than 150 communities in 38 countries. A new internal report states that Vanier had “manipulative and emotionally abusive” sexual relationships with six women, including nuns and assistants, between 1970 and 2005.
GCPS Consulting, based in Britain, was ordered by L’Arche to open an investigation following sexual misconduct allegations against disgraced priest Thomas Philippe, whom Vanier called his “spiritual father.” “These women reported similar facts associated with highly unusual spiritual or mystical explanations used to justify these behaviours,” L’Arche International’s statement reads. “These actions are indicative of a deep psychological and spiritual hold Jean Vanier had on these women.” The report reveals that the women said that Vanier “initiated sexual relations with them, usually in the context of spiritual accompaniment,” and that the incidents “had a significant negative impact on their personal lives and subsequent relationships.”