AK--Orthodox priest put on leave; victims’ group wants more from Church
For immediate release: Monday, February 23, 2015
Statement by Melanie Sakoda of Moraga CA, Orthodox Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (925-708-6175, firstname.lastname@example.org)
An Orthodox priest who has been accused of the physical, mental, and spiritual abuse of students at a school in Kodiak has been placed on a leave of absence.
On Saturday, February 21, the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Canada and Australia announced on its website that Archpriest Paisius DeLucia was on leave pending the outcome of a spiritual court. The court is scheduled to convene on March 19-21 of this year. Bishop Daniil Trendofilow Nikolov is currently investigating the complaints.
A victims’ group does not believe that a leave of absence is adequate and wants the diocese to do more.
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, believes that a suspension is the appropriate response in the face of such serious allegations.
“If the diocesan policy calls for a suspension upon receipt of a written complaint, then Father Paisius should have been suspended months ago, not placed on a leave of absence this weekend,” fumed Melanie Jula Sakoda of SNAP. “Doesn’t Metropolitan Joseph realize that unless this man is suspended, there is nothing to prevent him from continuing with the same pattern of abuse?”
The victims’ group also thinks that more needs to be said about the leave of absence. Cappy Larson, also of SNAP, pondered, “Where will Father Paisius be during this leave, and who will be in charge of the school? Current students can’t possibly feel safe to make an outcry if their abuser is still nearby, or if the person in charge has been a witness to past abuses and done nothing.”
The Executive Director of SNAP, David Clohessy expressed concern with proceeding with a spiritual court while a police investigation is still pending.
“Criminal behavior is best investigated by independent professionals in law enforcement, not self-serving church amateurs. We hope that anyone who experienced, witnessed, or suspected abuse at the academy will report to the police, get help and begin healing.”St. Innocent’s Academy is a ministry of the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Canada and Australia.
Metropolitan Joseph Bosakov (212-246-4608 Chancery phone & fax, email@example.com) heads the diocese.