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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release

For immediate release: Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Top Canadian Orthodox bishop steps aside

He faces child sex abuse allegations & church probe

Group blasts church officials for “secrecy and delays”

SNAP urges anyone who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes to call police

The New York-based Orthodox Church in America (OCA) is investigating child sex abuse charges against its highest-ranking Canadian archbishop who recently asked for and was given a leave of absence.

In an Oct. 3 news release posted on its website, the OCA disclosed that Archbishop Seraphim Storheim, who heads its Archdiocese of Canada, has recently stepped aside after “an official report” that police in Canada had received a complaint alleging “misconduct” by Storheim.

“For two years now we’ve heard reports that Storheim molested boys and that this was brought to the attention of the church more than 20 years ago. Those allegations resurfaced in the fall of 2008 when a clergyman filed a written report with the national church,” said Cappy Larson of San Francisco, Cofounder of SNAP Orthodox (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) “It breaks our hearts that the OCA was so slow to act and that kids were needlessly kept at risk for months/years.”

“We’re also upset that the OCA used the grossly misleading word ‘misconduct’ when, in fact, it’s childhood sexual abuse that is being alleged,” Melanie Jula Sakoda of Moraga, California, Cofounder of SNAP Orthodox (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) added. “It’s negligent and tragic that Storheim was never even suspended so that a proper investigation could have been done.”

When the archbishop was still in active ministry in April of 2009, SNAP Orthodox wrote to the OCA chancellor and the synod of bishops, urging them to take action to protect children. The OCA took no action.

In July of 2009, SNAP Orthodox received a letter purported to be from OCA Bishop Nikolai Soraich, former head of the Diocese of Alaska. The letter blasted a top church official for doing nothing about the allegations against Storheim. (Storheim was

reportedly sent to a monastery for a ten day retreat.) That same month, SNAP Orthodox forwarded this letter to the OCA’s synod of bishops, as well as to the church’s governing board.

Also in July of 2009, Metropolitan Jonah Paffhausen, the head of the church in North America, wrote SNAP Orthodox claiming that church officials “are pursuing an investigation.” Paffhausen is also the archbishop of Washington and lives in the D.C. area.

“The entire synod of bishops and top church staff have known about these allegations for at least two years, but they said nothing to warn others about Storheim and did nothing to protect others from Storheim,” said Sakoda. “And they still refuse to reach out to others he may have hurt.”

“We hope that anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered misdeeds by Storheim will come forward, get help, call police, expose wrongdoing, protect others and start recovering,” said Larson. “If you have information that would either prove or disprove these allegations, it is your moral and civic duty to speak up now.”

Anyone who has information is encouraged to report it to police rather than church officials.

Contact Melanie Jula Sakoda (925-708-6175 cell, [email protected]), David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected])

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests