AK--SNAP urges Orthodox victim to avoid church investigator
For immediate release: Thursday, February 19, 2015
Statement by Melanie Sakoda of Moraga CA,Orthodox Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (925-708-6175, [email protected])
Allegations of abuse at an Orthodox school in Kodiak are finally being investigated by church officials. However, a victims’ group is concerned that the untrained investigator looking into these charges will re-traumatize survivors.
Former students of St. Innocent’s Academy have accused the head of school, Father Paisius DeLucia, of physical and mental abuse. Bishop Daniil Trendofilov Nikolov has been charges with looking into those allegations by the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Canada and Australia.
However, members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by priests, are worried because the bishop is so grossly insensitive that he is very likely to hurt victims a second time.
According to a website dedicated to following the crisis at the Kodiak school Nikolov has been interviewing some of the men and women who have accused DeLucia of abuse.
However, to the victims’ group it is quite obvious that the bishop has absolutely no training in how to deal with abuse survivors, and no innate sensitivity.
Two victims were asked by Nikolov to meet with him at the academy itself. While the survivors were strong enough to resist this wholly inappropriate suggestion, the bishop persisted in urging them to visit the academy and meet with DeLucia.
More recently, a young woman, Rachael Van Sickle, wrote on the academy abuse site about her phone interview with Nikolov. Van Sickle says that the bishop questioned her closely about a sexual assault she experienced when DeLucia sent her to Romania. Nikolov then engaged in victim shaming, telling Van Sickle that the Old Testament’s definition of rape is requires a woman to scream out, and if she remains silent then it is not rape and she is just as accountable.
“While these three survivors have remained strong, such ignorance and insensitivity is dangerous,” said Melanie Sakoda of SNAP. “Victims who are not as far along in their healing may take the bishop’s inappropriate suggestions and comments at face value and be re-traumatized.”
“Criminal behavior is best investigated by independent professionals in law enforcement, not self-serving church amateurs,” continued David Clohessy, the executive director of SNAP. “We hope that anyone who experienced, witnessed, or suspected abuse at the academy will report to the police, get help and begin healing.”
Cappy Larson, also of SNAP, concluded, “The Bulgarian Church would be better off awaiting the outcome of the criminal investigation begun by Alaska state troopers, as the Orthodox Church in America did in the Storheim case. This inept inquiry comes very close to witness intimidation.”
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 protected]) heads the diocese.