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CHARGE OF POISONING BY A FRENCH PRIEST. A remarkable case has just been tried before the Trench tribunals, in which the Abbfi Dionis, the cnré of the parish of Banx, in the arrondissement of Arie*, in the South of France, was accused of having been an accomplice in the mur- der of the sacristan of his church, the actual murderer being the wife of the victim. The acte d'accusztion, which forms w important a part of French legal proceedilJg&, and wbich is. in fact, a summary of the case for the prosecution, dis- closed the following facts :— The man whose death wag the subject of inquiry, named Tougay, a watchmaker, and sexcon at the parish church, died suddenly on the 10th February, after a short illness. The wife, whose character is alleged to have been far from blameless, had for some time had an illicit connection with an old man, named Francis Grognard, but this connection she had apparently abandoned for some time, and the gossip of the neigh- bourhood attached noma significance to her assiduous visits to the parish church in the spring of 1868. The husband appears to have troubled himself very little about her conduct. When the woman, whose character was well known, entered the service of the curé, some of the parishioners remonstrated with the latter but he replied that he had been the means of reclaiming the woman from evil courses, and that Jesus Christ himself did not refuse to associate with such. The scandal, however, could not be repressed, and is said to have gathered weight from the previous life of the curé. The ecclesiastical authorities at length decided on removing him to another parish, and he received an order on the 20th January to repair thither forthwith. He did not, however, do so, but removed to a house which he rented for a short term at Blan- chon, at no great distance. The death of Tougay oc- curring on the 10th of February, excited suspicion in the minds of those who knew the relations between the widow and the priest. On the 15th March the body was exhumed, and evidence of poisoning by some pre- paration of copper, probably vitriol, was distinctly traced. The woman at first endeavoured to throw the guilt on her former companion, Grognard, but the police soon ascertained that she had purchased poison for rats at a grocer's, and that after her husband's death she had urgently requested him not to mention this fact. After her arrest she was heard frequently to mutter to herself, My God! if I tell, I shall ruin him." She then told a circumstantial tale, to the effect that she had been the mistress of the priest, and that he had urged her to a frequent observance of all ex- terior ncts of devotion, in order to avert uspicion. After he had been compelled by the remonstrances of his parishioners to diswiss her, th intercourse con- tinued in secret, her visits to the priest's chambers being usually made through the belfry after mass or evening prayer. When he was transferred to another parish, he endeavoured to persuade her to accompany him as servant, provided that she could obtain a writ- ten permission from her husband. As, however, this was not to be obtained, he proposed (according to her statement) that she should poison her husband, pro- mising her full absolution. She at first shrank from incurring the guilt of murder, but he assured her that nothing was easier; and on the very day when he re- ceived the final order to remove from the parish she purchased at two separate grocer's shops a 1]1lantity oj rat-poison and vitriol, which, according to the instruc- tions of the cUT é, she administered in a cup of coffee as Tougay was about to leave home. Almost as soon as he left the village, he was seized with violent symptoms of poisoning, and on being hroll¡.:ht. holtie w- confined to hi-< bt-d for 8"lIIe tuue. I The wife appears to have hesitated, but the priest en- couraged her to persevere. By his advice she went to a physician to lJrocure med'cin6 for her hU8b!lond, but took care that he should not visit the patient to ascer- tan the real cause of his malady. It is supposed that she subsequently administered more poison to her vic- tim. He died on the 10th of February. The priest seems to have been fully aware that sus- picion would fall on bim, and he endeavoured btcfure- hand to direct, attention to the old ma.n Grognard. It was, indeed, mainly at his instigation that the body was exhumed. When the unhappy woman first accused the abbe of complicity in her guilt, the latter, on being interrogated, made several inconsistent statements, which he endea- voured to retract almost in the same breath, and when brought face to face with his accuser, he remarked to the < fficers: Poor woman, if I could but speak with her aione for a moment, she would retract; I see that she loves me still." Several pieces of circumstantial evidence were ad- duced to strengthen the case. The remains of the poison were discovered in two places indicated by the woman. Moreover, the latter asserted that she had obtained access to the priest's room by a certain door, which the latter alleged had been bricked up for some years. On examination it was found that this door had only been closed by a very slight covering of plaster, easily removed. S ime workmen, moreover, were discovered, who testified to having met her coming from the houfle to which the cure removed, at the time specified by her. She also stated that ahe had twice confessed to the priest of a neighbouring commune the nature of the relations with Dionis, and that be refused her absolution. The priest confirms the fact of the confession, although, of course, the revelations made by the guilty woman have not been brought to light. When again brought before the magistrate, she attempted to withdraw the statement she had made, saying, I ought to have held my tongue, for the sake of religion. Cannot I withdraw my declarations ? I myself accept the responsibility of what has been done." The conduct of the priest, however, adds fores to the evidence of the woman against him. So soon as the legal investigation com- menced he left for Marseilles, taking care to be in- formed, by means of a woman named Patin, of the progress of the affair, and as soon as he learned that no accusation again8t him WIIo8 likely to result, he re- turned and by means of the Bame person contrived to keep up communica' ion with the accused woman. An exciting scene occurred in the Court, when the evidence was concluded. Just as the jury were about to retire to deliberate on their verdict the woman sud- denly rose, and declared that her previous statements were false, and that the priest was innocent. So much agitation was thus produced that the judge suspended the sitting of the court for an hour. The trial was then resumed the priest was acquitted, and the woman found guilty and sentenced to twelve years' hard lab< The woman Tougay appeared at the bar in the pic- turesque Aries costume. She is about 38 years of age, and though not pretty is somewhat attractive. Dionis is 51 years old.


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