Facing mounting legal scrutiny, the French Catholic church has admitted to a priest marrying a 15-year-old girl who was conceived while the couple was in jail in the Philippines.
Robert Joffre, 79, is facing multiple allegations of sexual misconduct involving a priest who served as a visiting priest in the diocese of Rouen in southern France.
Fr Joffrre, who is not a priest but an ordained deacon, was in charge of a congregation in the small parish of L’Ecole des Arts-la-Romance-Dans-Boutique in Rouen, a city of 2 million.
It was in that parish that he first met the teenager he would marry in 2007, who was 14 years old at the time.
He married her in 2009.
Afterward, the couple moved to Rouen to start a family.
But in 2012, they began to have children, including a daughter.
He has been accused of having sexual relations with the girl while in jail, and of using his position as a priest to pressure her into marriage.
The couple has denied the allegations.
Last month, a judge sentenced Fr Joffres to a suspended sentence and ordered him to pay the girl $2.5 million in child support.
He is currently appealing the ruling.
Fr Jeoffre has denied any wrongdoing and called the allegations “false and absurd.”
He told French radio that he is “very proud of my actions.”