Church of the Mother of God ‘of Kazan’
A priest of the Orthodox Church in America told a Winnipeg court this morning that he kept quiet about allegations that another priest abused two young boys for more than 20 years. Fr Steven Kostoff said that the mother of the alleged victims of sexual assault by Seraphim Storheim told him in 1987 that Storheim had wronged her boys two years earlier, but he did nothing about her concerns. He noted, “I was quite stunned, quite dumbfounded” by the allegations, but added that he decided to stay quiet about the matter. Storheim faces two counts of sexual assault involving two 11-year-old brothers in his home in Winnipeg during the summer of 1985. He pleaded not guilty to the charges when the trial began Monday. Storheim was the parish priest at Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral on Manitoba Avenue at the time. Storheim befriended the boys’ family whilst he served at another parish in another community and the boys visited him separately that summer. Today, Storheim is an OCA archbishop, which has historical ties to the Russian Orthodox Church. He was the most senior cleric of his church in Canada when the charges were laid in the fall of 2011, holding the title of Archbishop of Ottawa and Canada, but was subsequently suspended from that post pending the outcome of the criminal charges and an internal church investigation.
Kostoff said the boys’ mother showed her a handwritten letter allegedly written by Storheim, who didn’t admit to any sexual impropriety with her sons. Kostoff said that he read the letter, adding it had an apologetic defensive tone. At the conclusion of the letter, Kostoff said that Storheim wrote that he overstepped some boundaries with the boys by teaching them about adult things. Kostoff said that when the boys’ mother contacted him in 1987, sexual abuse was still a taboo subject and his church didn’t have a policy on it, saying, “I didn’t know quite what to do”, adding that he decided to keep quiet, “much to my deep regret”. Kostoff said that he began to feel guilty about his silence as news reports surfaced in the late 1990s about sexual abuse by priests. In October 2008, Kostoff said that he felt compelled to reach out to that family to apologise for his inactions, telling us, “Over the years, I felt very conflicted about (my silence). I realised I owed this family. I had to call the family. I had to apologise to them”. Kostoff said he reached out to the mother’s sons, now grown men, in 2008 and 2009, calling them by phone several times to talk about the incident with Storheim.
Crown Counsel Breta Passler wrapped up her case this morning. Before the trial proceeds further, Justice Chris Mainella must decide whether the court can use the evidence given by each brother during the trial this week in support of both charges against Storheim. There’s also a possibility that defence counsel Jeff Gindin will make a motion that the court should hear the two charges in separate trials. The trial resumes Friday morning.
12 June 2013
This is why the OCA had to have pressured Storheim to cop a plea. No good is going to come of this trial… it smells like a cheesy replay of the Rembert Weakland saga in Milwaukee. Tikhon Mollard had an obligation to have held the lumber over Storheim for the good of the Church. He didn’t… and the Church will pay a very dear price because of his inaction. The OCA is very weak after the tumultuous and juvenile misrule of James Paffhausen. This case has the possibility of weakening its already-shaky cred; it can shred it into nothingness.
This isn’t pleasant… this isn’t “nice”. However, it’s reality, and if we don’t deal with it on the up-and-square, it’ll deal with us in short order. Yet… it could’ve been WORSE (could you imagine it being mishandled by Peterson or Dahulich? That chills the blood). What will happen, will happen… Mollard’s supine inactivity is an effectual confession of Kismet. God do help us…