Five weeks ago, I blogged about an encrypted diary kept by a French pedophile priest. Tony Gaffney has now broken the cipher. I hope, my readers can help to decrypt the two diary pages that are publicly available.
On January 21, I published a blog post about an encrypted diary written by a French priest who was accused of pedophile offenses (this diary is now number 00095 on my encrypted book list). The source for this story are a number of articles published in the French press. In addition, there is a website made by the victims of the priest: http://notreparoleaussiliberee.org.
Acccording to the articles mentioned above, there are at least four volumes of the diary. The only scan I could find shows a passage from the 1990s contained in volume 4, which fills over 300 pages.
Apparently, the plaintext of this diary excerpt has never been published. Blog reader Simon wrote:
I did a quick google search but could not find more pages of the diary. Some articles in French written in 2016 say that the diary was found and confiscated during a search, but never decrypted by the police. Later, victims of the priest got the diary and tried to decrypt it before the end of the trial, hoping to find evidence against the priest and proof that the priest has been protected by the church (doesn’t look like they succeeded). In custody, the priest accepted to decode a page of his diary, but there was nothing too personal in it; mostly details about his schedule and people he met.
The persons molested by the priest […] complained they were left alone in decrypting the diary.
Blog reader Steve found some more information about the diary and the encryption method the priest used. His comment is available here.
Tony Gaffney’s solution
Last Friday, I received a mail from Tony Gaffney, who is known to readers of this blog as a world-class codebreaker. Tony wrote: “After many struggles I’ve just solved the priest cipher.” It goes without saying that I was quite thrilled about this news.
Tony provided me the following key (eddited to add: this is a new version Tony provided on March 1):
As can be seen, the priest used a homophonic cipher. Such a system is usually quite difficult to break.
In addition to the key, Tony sent me the following plaintext draft:
I took these two sheets to my friend Christel Nana, who is a native French speaker. With her help, I could retrieve the following partial decryption of the first sheet:
Nicolas a tout de suite été interessé par sa proposition que je suis faite de tondre ses pelouses pour faire d’argent de poche.
Ma relation aux autres s’ameliore considerablement. Je les porte dans mon coeur. Chaque entrevue peut devenir vraiement agreable.
Je conduis mon bus à Orleans pour le preter Andre Martin pour ? jours. Mais avant contrôle technique car il ya ? ans et j’achète deux tubes d’acier pour faire un ?
Debut de sa deuxieme redaction qui mi quel
Here’s a translation attempt:
? in his room, which he had cleaned up before I came. What a nice boy! I am happy in his presence. David is very enjoyable. […]