Voices from Russia

Friday, 20 July 2012

AP: Leader of US Orthodox Church Quits Amid Rape Claim


The leader of the Syosset-based Orthodox Church in America resigned and been replaced amidst questions about whether he failed to report to church officials or law enforcement an allegation of a rape by a priest and other sexual-misconduct claims. The church issued a statement saying Metropolitan Jonah, the Archbishop of Washington, submitted his resignation in a letter on 6 July. The letter from Jonah noted the resignation had come at the request of the Holy Synod of Bishops. Jonah didn’t refer to the rape allegation in his letter. Part of the letter to the bishops said he begged “forgiveness for however I have offended you, and for whatever difficulties have arisen from my own inadequacies and mistakes in judgment”. There was no telephone listing for Jonah, who couldn’t be reached for comment on Thursday.

On Monday, the church issued a three-page statement detailing Jonah’s four-year tenure as its leader. It said Jonah failed to report a 2010 rape allegation involving an unidentified priest to authorities when he learned of it last February. The statement said in light of sex abuse scandals involving the Catholic Church and at Penn State University, “the risk of liability to which the Metropolitan has exposed the church can’t be overstated”. It also said Jonah had “repeatedly refused to act with prudence, in concert with his fellow bishops” regarding the church’s standards and procedures regarding sexual misconduct. It said for several years there had been a repeated pattern of Jonah “taking other unilateral actions that were contrary to the advice of the Holy Synod and/or the church’s lawyers”. It added he withheld information from brother bishops and church lawyers “concerning litigation matters, and matters that might have resulted, and still might result, in litigation”. It said he gave unauthorised people a detailed internal church report concerning “numerous investigations into sexual misconduct”, which risked leaking names of accusers and the accused.

Father Eric Tosi, a church spokesman, referred any additional questions to the church statement. There are approximately 80,000 OCA members in more than 800 parishes and institutions in the USA, Canada, and Mexico.

20 July 2012

Frank Feltman

Associated Press

As quoted in the Long Island Press



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