French police have arrested a fundamentalist priest who allegedly raped and tortured three women during exorcism rituals.
The 40-year-old allegedly abused the women in 2010, when he was head of the private religious school Notre-Dame-de-la Sablonniere in Goussonville, a village of 600 people 50km west of Paris.
His victims were teachers at the institute run by the Society of St. Pius X, a Catholic order blackballed by the Vatican.
The priest, who has not been named, used the spiritual influence he had on the women to abuse them, Le Parisien newspaper reported.
One of the victims, a mother, had reportedly came to him for advice on a previous sexual abuse she had suffered.
The priest performed a so-called exorcism on her repeating the abuse to "purge evil with evil", the newspaper said.
The woman was said to have been so traumatised that she could not describe the events to police.
The priest used the same perverse technique to manipulate two other women into believing they had been the victims of sexual abuses and thus needed to be exorcised.
Questioned by police, the man downplayed the accusations claiming that the women agreed to the exorcism and that sexual acts were only simulated.
The alleged crimes came to light as two of the victims found the strength to lodge a complaint with police in 2013.
Prosecutors in Versailles charged the clergyman with acts of cruelty, torture and rape.
Le Parisien reported that the man had already been tried by his religious order in a canon trial and sentenced to two years in a monastery.
Founded by French archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1970, the Society of St. Pius X has no canonical status, meaning ministries exorcised by its ministers are not considered legitimate by the Vatican.
The order, which opposes reforms of the church made at the Second Vatican Council, fell out with the Holy See when it ordained four bishops without the Pope's consent in 1988.
The four were excommunicated immediately but eventually pardoned in 2009. Among them was Richard Williamson, who denies the Holocaust and the existence of Nazi death camps and gas chambers.
The Society sparked controversy last 2013 when it agreed to celebrate funerals for Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke who died unrepentant aged 100 in Rome.