Canada--Convicted Orthodox archbishop released from prison
For immediate release: Thursday, July 23, 2015
For more information: Melanie Jula Sakoda of Moraga, California, Orthodox Christian Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (email@example.com, 925-708-6175), Cappy Larson of San Francisco, California, Orthodox Christian Director of SNAP (firstname.lastname@example.org, 415-637-2006); David Clohessy of St. Louis, Missouri, Executive Director of SNAP (email@example.com, 314-566-9790)
Victims want abusive bishop defrocked
He’s been released early from Canadian prison
SNAP to hierarchs: “Tell public where the molester is now”
Group begs officials to limit his access to kids and parishes
“You have a moral duty to disclose and warn families at risk,” victims say
A Canadian archbishop convicted of child sexual abuse has been released from prison early. A support group for victims wants church officials to defrock him, warn families about him and keep him away from parishes.
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are writing to the bishops of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) about Archbishop Seraphim Storheim, who was once the church’s highest ranking official in Canada. Storheim was suspended by his synod following his arrest in November of 2010. In January 2014, he was forced into retirement after his conviction for child sexual abuse.
SNAP wants church officials to take the next step and defrock the archbishop. The victims’ group has been urging the OCA to do this since the archbishop’s 2014 conviction.
According to the website which announced Storheim’s release, he left custody on July 7, 2105, in compliance with the “Statutory Earned (early) Release.” Also according to the site, the conditions and restrictions of his release while his appeal was pending have been removed and THERE ARE NO CONDITIONS OR RESTRICTIONS ON THE ARCHBISHOP. (Emphasis supplied.)
However, the site is apparently maintained by a group of Canadian parishioners who remain loyal to the disgraced cleric.
Members of SNAP have written to the synod again pleading with them to defrock Storheim. All of the bishops are in Atlanta from July 20-24, at the Hilton Atlanta Hotel, for their national council. The victims’ group also asked the synod to:
1. Inform the faithful and the public of the archbishop’s current whereabouts and any restrictions imposed by the Canadian government;
2. Use their authority to restrict Storheim’s access to children and parishes; and
3. Caution and alert families at risk, particularly those who believe the archbishop was wrongfully convicted and who may put kids at risk to demonstrate their trust in Storheim.
The complete text of the email can be found below.
The sex abuse guidelines of the OCA mandate the removal of those clerics convicted of abusing children. The Policies, Standards, and Procedures on Sexual Misconduct states that “Any clergy ... found to have committed child sexual abuse … shall be deposed by the Holy Synod of Bishops, and shall be permanently prohibited from exercising any functions or responsibilities of parish ministry. ..."
Melanie Jula Sakoda, the Orthodox Christian Director for SNAP, wants action now. “It’s time for the OCA to remove Archbishop Seraphim from the priesthood. He’s been convicted and even served his sentence. No more excuses.”
Cappy Larson is the other Orthodox Christian Director for SNAP. She added, “The synod of bishops also needs to make public what they know about the archbishop’s current whereabouts and any conditions of his release. If Archbishop Seraphim is residing in an OCA facility, they need to make sure that he is forbidden to be alone with minors and that he only attends services where authorized. Even if the Canadian government did not impose any conditions on Archbishop Seraphim’s release, the Church can go the extra mile to protect kids.”
In addition, the Executive Director of SNAP, David Clohessy, urged the bishops to have church officials reach out to every parishioner in Canada, reminding them that children must not be put at risk. “There are people in the archdiocese who believe that the archbishop was wrongfully convicted. These ‘true believers’ are likely to expose kids to danger just to demonstrate their continued trust in their former archbishop. The synod has a responsibility to do what they can to prevent this from happening.”
Sakoda concluded, “The OCA has a moral duty to continue to monitor the archbishop, and to alert and caution families who may be at risk.”
July 23, 2015
Metropolitan Tikhon Mollard
P.O. Box 675
Syosset, NY 11791
Archbishop Nathaniel Popp
PO Box 309
Grass Lake, MI 49240-0309
Archbishop Nikon Liolin
PO Box 149
Southbridge, MA 01550
Archbishop Benjamin Peterson
1520 Green St
San Francisco, CA 94123
Archbishop Alejo Pacheco-Vera
Av Rio Consulado E Iruapato #53
Col Penon De Los Banos
Mexico, DF 15520
Archbishop Melchisedek Pleska
PO Box 1769
Cranberry Township, PA 16066-1769
Archbishop Mark Maymon
144 St Tikhon's Road
Waymart, PA 18472
Archbishop Irenee Rochon
15 LeBreton St. N.
Ottawa, ON K1R 7H1
Archbishop Michael Dahulich
33 Hewitt Ave
Bronxville, NY 10708
Bishop Alexander Golitzin
519 Brynhaven Dr.
Oregon, OH 43616
Bishop David Mahaffey
7031 Howard Ave
Anchorage, AK 99504-1899
Bishop Paul Gassios
933 N. La Salle Dr.
Chicago, IL 60610-3204
Re: The Release from Prison of Archbishop Seraphim Storheim
We are members of a victims’ group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. We are writing to you today because we are concerned about the release of Archbishop Seraphim, and what that means for the safety of kids in the Archdiocese of Canada.
First, according to your Policies, Standards, and Procedures on Sexual Misconduct, “Any clergy ... found to have committed child sexual abuse … shall be deposed by the Holy Synod of Bishops, and shall be permanently prohibited from exercising any functions or responsibilities parish ministry. ..."
It’s time. The archbishop has been convicted and even served his sentence. We beg you; don’t allow him to continue to hold a position of authority in the Church. Send the message that the OCA has zero tolerance for child sexual abuse!
Also, we believe that your responsibility does not end with defrocking, and we urge you to take three additional steps.
1. First, inform the Faithful and the public of Archbishop Seraphim’s current whereabouts and any conditions of his release;
2. Second, place conditions on the archbishop’s residency in any OCA facilities: he should not to be alone with minors and he should only attend services where authorized by you;
3. Finally, reach out to the Faithful in Canada via the pulpit, the internet and by mail to inform every one of the restrictions on Archbishop Seraphim. Alert and caution them to respect these limitations to insure the safety of the Church’s children.
As you know, there are some within the Archdiocese of Canada who believe that the archbishop was wrongfully convicted, and they are likely to ignore the possible danger to their kids in order to show their continued trust in the archbishop. Please do what you can to prevent this from happening.
The OCA has made great strides in addressing the issue of clergy sexual misconduct. We hope that you will continue this process.
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.