Registered sex offender remained an Orthodox Archpriest: SNAP appalled at this incomprehensible decision
(For Immediate Release June 8, 2023)
******UPDATED LETTER AND RESPONSE FOUND IN THE LINKS BELOW******
A recently deceased Archpriest in the Diocese of the South (DOS), Orthodox Church in America (OCA), apparently continued bear the title of “archpriest,” despite being a registered sex offender. We are absolutely shocked that Archpriest Benjamin Henderson, who was convicted of possessing child pornography, was never defrocked.
We have written to the late Fr. Henderson’s hierarch, Archbishop Alexander Golitzin, asking him to explain how such a travesty came about, despite evidence that the DOS was at least aware that the priest had been charged with this heinous crime. A copy of the letter is linked below.
Child pornography is NOT a victimless crime. The images of the very real boys and girls who appear in the photos and videos are traded and used indefinitely, leading to a lifetime of victimization. Moreover, studies have shown a strong correlation between those downloading these disturbing images and those who abuse children themselves. At least 50 percent of those who consume such material also admit to child sexual abuse.
Accordingly, we urge the DOS and the OCA to not only give a complete and transparent public account as to why Archpriest Henderson was never defrocked, but also to do outreach to every parish where the clergyman worked, begging anyone who may have experienced abuse by him to come forward and get help. Finally, we believe that the DOS and the OCA should also directly notify any other Orthodox jurisdictions or religious institutions where Archpriest Henderson previously worked of his conviction, so that those groups can do the same outreach.
CONTACT: Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator ([email protected], 925-708-6175), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578), Shaun Dougherty, President, SNAP Board of Directors ([email protected], 814- 341-8386), Zach Hiner, Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 35 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
RESPONSE FROM BISHOP GERASIM ELIEL
Dear Ms Sakoda,
I am sending to you a copy of my report to His Eminence, Archbishop Alexander, who has asked me to send a copy to you.