MI--Orthodox bishop ousted for alleged sexual misconduct
For immediate release, Thursday, September 3, 2015
A Michigan Orthodox bishop has been put on leave and forbidden to work as a priest while allegations of sexual misconduct are investigated. A victims’ group applauds the disclosure but wants church officials to do more.
On September 1st, Dearborn Heights Archbishop Nathaniel Popp (517-522-4800, email@example.com) publicly disclosed on his website that his auxiliary bishop, Irineu Duvlea (517-456-4474, firstname.lastname@example.org), was being investigated by the Office for Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegations of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA).
Popp also wrote that while Duvlea was presumed innocent, he had been placed on a leave of absence and banned from working pending the outcome of the investigation, as required by the OCA’s sexual misconduct policy. The archbishop added that the investigation was “confidential,” warning his flock not to discuss the issue further.
Members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, welcomed the fact that Popp had made the investigation public. However, the group feels the archbishop isn’t going far enough.
Melanie Jula Sakoda, the Orthodox Director for SNAP, said “Investigations into sexual misconduct should always be made public, and I was very pleased to see that Archbishop Nathaniel had made this announcement. Such disclosures encourage others who experienced witnessed or suspected abuse to come forward.
But the archbishop shouldn’t stop with an internet posting. He should use every resource at his disposal - mailings, parish announcements - to notify people in every church where Bishop Irineu worked of this recent development.”
“The Church should also supply additional information,” added Cappy Larson, also of SNAP Orthodox, “Did the misconduct involve a parishioner? If so, was the victim a child, an adult, a male, a female? How many victims have come forward? More complete disclosure can help to jog memories and reassure other survivors, producing additional testimony and evidence.”
The two women were also concerned with the archbishop’s attempt to curtail discussion of the charges.
“Many who are victimized by clergy are no longer within the Church,” Sakoda explained.
Larson chimed in, “Discouraging parishioners from talking about the allegations can mean that other survivors never learn about the charges, and their pertinent information will never be heard by the investigators.”
The Executive Director of SNAP, David Clohessy, concluded, “Anyone who experiences, witnesses or suspects criminal behavior should go to the police first. Investigations are best handled by the professionals in law enforcement, who understand the importance of reaching out to potential victims.”
Duvlea was a monk in Romania before he came to the United States in 2001. He founded The Ascension of The Lord Monastery in Clinton, Michigan (15143 Sheridan Road). He was the head of the Western States Vicariate of the OCA’s Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America. His territory included parishes in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Texas, Oregon and Washington.
A picture and additional contact information can be found here:
Popp's address is: PO Box 309 Grass Lake, MI 49240 US
Duvlea is listed at this address: 2535 Grey Tower Rd., Jackson, MI 49201
He's also listed as the abbot of this monastery:
15143 Sheridan Rd., Clinton, Michigan 49236
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.