A French woman has lost her “enslavement” court case against two followers of Opus Dei and an association closely linked to the powerful conservative Catholic group.
Catherine Tissier, 40, had claimed that from the age of 14 until 27 she was forced to clean, wash and serve 15 hours per day, with no holidays or proper pay at a hotel school linked to Opus Dei.
A French court ruled there was no evidence she had been trapped all that time without remuneration.
She said as a “numerary assistant”, she was forced to take vows of obedience, poverty and chastity and cut off from the outside world.
She had filed for charges of “concealed work” and “payment contrary to dignity”.
Defence lawyers had insisted the trial, believed to be the first of its kind in Europe, was a simple labour dispute.
But lawyers for Miss Tissier alleged the group’s practices were physically and psychologically damaging to their client.
According to the Associated Press
Tissier’s lawyer said she would appeal.
A spokeswoman for Opus Dei, Beatrice de La Coste, welcomed the decision, saying it “reaffirms the complete exoneration of Opus Dei.” […]
During the September trial, the prosecutor had requested a €30,000 ($42,000 at the time) fine against the association, ACUT, linked to the Roman Catholic group and €6,000 in fines against the two Opus Dei members.
They faced charges of “clandestine work” and “remuneration contrary to dignity.”
However, the court ignored those requests, acquitting all defendants. The ruling did not evoke the situation of “numeraries” and said that Tissier’s claims went unproven. The court recognized that employees of ACUT “handled numerous unpaid tasks,” but said that Tissier’s decision to join was “without constraint.”
The court noted that state records show she was paid. She claims she was asked to sign blank checks by her employers and never saw her salary.
Tissier was 14 when she joined the hotel school in Dosnon, in eastern France. She stayed on despite the rigors, following the group’s spiritual path.