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L'Arche: Investigation reveals abuses committed by founder Vanier

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PARIS (Reuters) - Jean Vanier, the now deceased founder of L’Arche, a not-for-profit organization which helps people with learning difficulties, sexually abused six women in France, the body said on Saturday, citing the conclusions of an investigation.

In a letter sent on Saturday to the L’Arche Federation, the leaders of the organization made public the conclusions of the investigation which they had commissioned from an external and independent UK-based body GCPS.

Vanier, who founded l’Arche in 1964, died last year aged 90.

The GCPS investigation included testimonies implicating Vanier and highlighted his historic links to Father Thomas Philippe, a priest whom he considered to be his spiritual father, the letter said.

From 2014, L’Arche officials received several testimonies from women alleging that they had been sexually abused by Philippe, prompting the latest investigation.

The probe also uncovered acts of abuse committed by Vanier. “Sincere and consistent testimonies spanning from 1970-2005 were received from six adult women without disabilities indicating that Jean Vanier initiated sexual relations with them, generally as part of spiritual accompaniment. Some of these women have suffered deep wounds,” L’Arche said, without specifying the nature of the harm suffered.

The current leaders of L’Arche International, Stephan Posner and Stacy Cates Carney, wrote in a letter to the L’Arche Federation published on Saturday, that they were shocked by the discoveries and unreservedly condemned the actions of Vanier and Philippe.

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; editing by James Drummond