Voices from Russia

Friday, 24 January 2014

24 January 2014. What oca.org REFUSES to Tell You About the Storheim Verdict

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Related stories are here and here

The leader of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) in Canada got a dressing down from a Manitoba judge as he convicted the cleric of sexually assaulting an altar boy more than 30 years ago. Archbishop Kenneth Seraphim Storheim faced charges of molesting twin 11-year-old boys whilst he was a parish priest at an Orthodox church in Winnipeg MB. By the time charges were laid in 2011, Storheim had become the most senior cleric in the OCA in Canada, holding the title of Archbishop of Ottawa and all Canada, the Winnipeg Free Press reported. on Friday, Queens Bench Justice Chris Mainella convicted Storheim, 67, of sexually assaulting one of the two brothers. Mainella acquitted him of molesting the other brother, saying problems with the second victim, including mental illness, affected the quality of his evidence, the Free Press said. However, in his two-hour decision, Mainella, who heard the case without a jury, lit into Storheim, saying the archbishop’s claims of innocence rang hollow and lacked credibility, saying, “He loves to parse words and concepts. Other times, he’d provide nonsensical answers. I reject his evidence entirely”.

Police arrested Storheim after the brothers contacted police about the abuse, which happened in the mid-1980s. The boys’ single mother sent them to live with Storheim at the church. One brother testified that Storheim routinely walked around the rectory house nude and would sometimes lie on the floor naked, touching himself. He said Storheim once touched him and inspected his genital area as he sat naked on a bed. The other brother testified Storheim got into bed with him and asked to be touched sexually. However, he conceded he had spent time in a psychiatric hospital, was on several medications, and he’d large gaps in his memory.

Storheim denied anything inappropriate ever happened, CBC News reported during last fall’s trial. He testified he talked to one of the brothers about puberty, which he said was probably prompted by the mention in the Bible of bodily discharges. He said it was “one of the stupider things I’ve done in my life”. He also admitted holding one of the boy’s pyjama bottoms up to the light to look for semen stains at the request of the boy. Crown Prosecutor Breta Passier said the explanation just wasn’t credible, saying, “This story of a young [boy] asking a priest to examine his pyjamas for the presence of semen isn’t believable. It stretches credulity”. Passier noted one of the brothers was able to describe Stroheim’s naked body in detail, down to the moles on his back and whether his penis was circumcised.

Another OCA priest testified about a discussion he had with the boys’ mother in 1987 in which she told him Storheim had “done some terrible things to my boys”. The boys showed him a letter from Storheim admitting he may have overstepped by talking about adult things. Storheim admitted in court he wrote a letter to the family saying “I probably stepped over the pastoral line”, but claimed he was referring to the talk about puberty and nothing more, the Free Press said. Storheim remains free on bail pending sentencing later this spring. The OCA suspended him from his duties in the church after charges were laid.

24 January 2014

Steve Mertl

Daily Brew

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/dailybrew/canada-top-orthodox-cleric-convicted-sexually-assaulting-alter-210537787.html

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On Friday, a judge convicted an Orthodox archbishop of sexually assaulting an altar boy 29 years ago, saying that Seraphim Kenneth Stroheim’s denials were “nonsensical”. Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Christopher Mainella said in an oral decision that lasted for two hours, “I don’t believe the testimony of the accused. The accused wasn’t credible about his behaviour. He … provided nonsensical answers and wasn’t consistent in his version of events”. Storheim, who became the top Canadian cleric for the Orthodox Church in America, faced charges of sexually assaulting two brothers in the summer of 1985, when he was a priest in Winnipeg MB. The brothers, whose identities are protected by a publication ban, lived with Storheim for brief periods, on separate occasions, while they worked as altar boys. They testified Storheim would walk around naked and asked to be touched sexually. One brother told court Storheim got into bed with him while naked. That brother, however, admitted to memory problems and a history of mental illness and alcohol addiction. Mainella found Storheim not guilty on that charge.

The other brother was very detailed in his recollection of events and the judge deemed him “a credible witness”. The brother, now in his 30s, said Storheim once combed through the boy’s pelvic area to look for pubic hair, examined his pyjamas for semen stains and had the boy touch Stroheim’s genitals. Storheim denied any inappropriate touching when he testified. He told court he was telling the boy about puberty based on some Biblical teachings. The judge rejected Stroheim’s version of events. Mainella said, “The accused would have no justification to touch (the boy) as he did. This goes beyond a mere misguided discussion about puberty”.

Storheim, who is now 68, sat passively but was attentive as the judge delivered the verdict. A small group of supporters hugged Storheim afterward. A date hasn’t yet been set for sentencing. Outside court, defence lawyer Jeff Gindin said he’s likely to ask that Storheim be spared any jail time and to seek probation or a conditional sentence, saying, “He has no record, and on the scale of sexual assaults, this would be certainly on a lower level compared to some that you see”. Gindin said he may also appeal the conviction, but will wait for the sentence before he decides. Police arrested Storheim in 2010 after the brothers went to the police with their complaint. The OCA placed him on leave.

24 January 2014

Steven Lambert

Canadian Press

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/canadian-press-newsalert-archbishop-guilty-sexually-assaulting-boy-180252675.html

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A Manitoba court convicted a high-ranking Orthodox archbishop of sexually assaulting a young altar boy whilst working in a Winnipeg MB church nearly 30 years ago. Seraphim Storheim, 67, showed little visible reaction today as he learned his fate. He’ll be sentenced later this spring and remains free on bail. Queen’s Bench Justice Chris Mainella blasted Storheim in his two-hour decision, saying his claims of innocence rang hollow. Finding Stroheim’s testimony lacked credibility Mainella said, “He loves to parse words and concepts. Other times, he’d provide nonsensical answers. I reject his evidence entirely”. Storheim did win a partial victory, as Mainella convicted him of molesting just one of two brothers who claimed he attacked them. Mainella cited issues with the other alleged victim, including mental illness, which affected the evidence he was able to give.

Storheim took the witness stand in his own defence, claiming the only thing he was guilty of was caring too much for a troubled family he took under his wing. Storheim admits he talked to the 11-year-old twin boys about puberty and body development, which included specific comments about ejaculation and pubic hair. He said the topic only came up during Bible study when the boys began asking questions. He said he regrets not quickly changing the subject, but he repeatedly denied he ever touched the boys or repeatedly exposed himself to them, as they claimed on the witness stand. He said any touching that occurred was “certainly by accident”. Storheim conceded it’s possible the boys might have seen him walking around in the nude during sleepovers at his home, but added, “There was never an intentional display. I overstepped a sense of compassion”. He admits writing a letter of apology to the family years later in which he said, “I probably stepped over a pastoral line”, but he claims those remarks were for the talk about puberty and nothing more sinister.

Storheim was the parish priest at Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Cathedral (OCA) at 643 Manitoba Avenue at the time of the alleged incidents. Storheim befriended the boys’ family whilst he served at another parish in another community and the brothers visited him separately that summer. Storheim 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 all Canada, but was later suspended from that post pending the outcome of the criminal charges and an internal church investigation.

24 January 2014

Michael McIntyre

Winnipeg Free Press

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/Archbishop-Storheim-found-guilty-of-sexually-assaulting-altar-boy-241849391.html

Editor’s Note:

Click here for the mealy-mouthed reaction on oca.org. Make no mistake, Lyonyo and Jillions ran up this POS exculpation to protect the butts of the First Families apparat. Watch for Lebedeff to unctuously intone that we all should “forgive and forget” to “facilitate healing”. It’ll be a sick and perverted replay of what happened after the Koumentakos settlement. I’ll not reply now. I’m too… sickened and repulsed… at the smarmy official OCA line. It’s disgusting, lawyerly (in the worst possible sense of the term), and absolutely without merit. There’s no admission of any guilt, personal or corporate. “We admit no wrongdoing…” If the usual cast of suspects start their usual caterwauling, I’ll simply say to them:

Kiss my ass. I’ll see you on the other side of the barricades.

There IS such a thing as crank clergy. If you try to justify them, you’re guilty, too. This is too much of a muchness…

BMD

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