Canada, NY—In the face of pleas for Orthodox synod to ignore their sex abuse policy, victims’ group urges leaders to stand firm
For immediate release: Tuesday, March 17, 2015
A group of die-hard supporters of an Orthodox archbishop convicted of child sexual abuse are urging a synod of Orthodox bishops to ignore their sex abuse policy.
The synod of bishops of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) will be meeting in Syosset, New York, from Tuesday, March 17 through Friday, March 20, 2015. Among the items on their agenda is a review of the materials related to Archbishop Seraphim Storheim, who was convicted of the sexual abuse of a pre-teen boy in January of 2014.
Members of an abuse survivors' group are begging OCA officials stand firm. The Church’s sex abuse policy requires that clergy who have been convicted of child sexual abuse be laicized by the synod of bishops.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has been urging the synod to follow its own guidelines since Storheim was convicted in January of 2014.
The archbishop, who for many years was the OCA’s highest ranking clergyman in Canada, was convicted in January of 2014 for sexually violating an 11 year old altar boy in Winnipeg. The archbishop was sentenced to 8 months in jail the following July, but appealed both the conviction and the sentence. However, his conviction and his sentence were recently upheld by the appellate court.
“I understand how difficult it can be for people to believe that a beloved clergyman is guilty of such a heinous crime,” said Melanie Jula Sakoda of SNAP. “But the archbishop has been tried and found guilty in a court of law. There is a good reason for the OCA’s policy: it protects innocent kids!”
“What kind of a church would knowingly risk its precious children to a known predator?” asked Cappy Larson, also of SNAP. “The synod can’t afford to allow convicted pedophiles to remain among its priests.”
For more information: Melanie Jula Sakoda (925-708-6175 cell, email@example.com), Cappy Larson (415-637-2006 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org), David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, mailto:email@example.com)
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.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
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.