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PARIS (AP) — The chief Paris prosecutor and the French capital’s archbishop have struck an agreement allowing faster investigations into alleged sexual abuse by clergy.

Thursday’s accord came as more people in France are coming forward about past sexual wrongdoing by priests, and after repeated scandals pushed the French Catholic Church to step up efforts to address abuse.

Under the accord signed by Prosecutor Rémy Heitz and Archbishop Michel Aupetit, the diocese will now immediately report any accusations of wrongdoing to prosecutors. In the past, the church would conduct an internal investigation first.

Diocese spokeswoman Karine Dalle said the church has reported 13 accusations of priest sexual abuse to Paris prosecutors over the past three years, and that the number has grown in recent months. Many cases are too old to be prosecuted.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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