Voices from Russia

Friday, 21 June 2013

Storheim Sex-Abuse Trial Adjourned to September

01-here-comes-the-canadian-judge

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The trial of an Orthodox archbishop charged with sexually assaulting two 11-year-old brothers during the summer of 1985 was adjourned to September. Defence counsel for Seraphim Storheim requested additional time to prepare a defence after Justice Christopher Mainella ruled earlier this week that the testimony of the two brothers could be used in weighing each other’s allegations. Defence counsel Jeff Gindin told court that he’s considering bringing in an expert witness in the fall, and possibly other witnesses. It’s possible Storheim could also take the stand.

20 June 2013

Aldo Santin

Brandon Sun

http://www.brandonsun.com/breaking-news/Archbishop-sex-abuse-case-adjourned-to-September-212224281.html

Editor’s Note:

This sets up the worst-of-all-possible worlds for the OCA. Now, the entire summer will be full of festering speculation… and charges, counter-charges, and avoidable controversy. It’s clear that Gindin didn’t expect the judge’s ruling. He doesn’t sound like the most-competent barrister out there, to speak frankly. He didn’t plan for the judge ruling against him. You see, if he were a competent barrister, he’d know that the best course for his client and for the OCA would be to end this clattering soap opera as soon as possible. No matter what happens, Storheim’s cred is in the shitter, and it’s there irretrievably. Storheim can never again serve as a bishop… that’s that. The only thing that Gindin can do for Storheim is to keep his arse out of the slam.

No matter what, the OCA’s cred is in tatters (worse than before). This adjournment is inane. I’ll say this… it isn’t Lyonyo’s doing. Lyonyo wants this over. He’s a nasty mofo, but he’s not utterly stupid like JP nor is he placidly empty-headed like Mollard. The OCA will still have to bite the shit sandwich… postponement won’t help matters. Shall we have to drain the cup to the last bitter dregs? I hope not…

BMD  

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Decision in Storheim Trial Goes Badly for Syosset

01 Canadian gavel

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A Manitoba judge ruled Tuesday that two brothers who say that an Orthodox priest sexually abused them would have their testimony considered jointly. The decision by Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Christopher Mainella at the trial of Seraphim Storheim isn’t what the defence had hoped to hear. It means that the court could use each brother’s testimony about separate alleged sexual encounters with Storheim in considering the other’s allegations. Mainella said, “The probative value of the evidence … outweighs its potential prejudice”.

The two complainants were preteens in the summer of 1985 when they were sent, on separate occasions, to live and work as altar boys with Storheim in Winnipeg. A publication ban mandates that the brothers, now in their 30s, must remain anonymous. The men have already told the trial Storheim walked around naked and asked them to touch him sexually. One brother’s memory was vague and sometimes contradictory. He testified he suffers from mental illness and is on several medications. The other brother’s testimony was much clearer. He told the trial that Storheim would sometimes lie on the floor and touch himself. He also testified Storheim once combed through his pelvic area, searching for pubic hairs, as he sat naked on a bed.

Normally, testimony about separate alleged incidents remains separate, so as not to prejudice a judge or jury. However, the judge granted a similar-fact evidence application from the Crown to have each brother’s testimony used in the other’s case. Mainella ruled that the court needs the move because the complaints stem from the same time and bear similar characteristics about Storheim’s alleged actions. The judge alone is trying the case. Earlier, defence lawyer Jeff Gindin hinted that he’d consider moving that the court dismiss one of the charges… the one involving the brother with the vague memory. Tuesday’s ruling makes that unlikely.

The next step is to set dates for the defence to present its case. Outside court, Gindin said it is “quite likely” that he’d call witnesses, but he wouldn’t say whether Storheim would testify. Storheim, now in his 60s, worked as an OCA priest in Alberta, North Carolina, London ON, and other areas. He became the church’s top cleric in Canada in 2007. The OCA has 700 churches and other facilities across North America and is separate from other Orthodox religions such as the Greek Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

18 June 2013

Steve Lambert

The Canadian Press

As quoted in Brandon Sun

http://www.brandonsun.com/national/breaking-news/testimony-from-two-brothers-will-be-considered-jointly-in-archbishop-sex-trial-212040501.html

Corroborating articles are here and here

Editor’s Note:

One of the Cabinet observed:

The Crown Court made a ruling. It’s getting bad for Storheim; I’ll bet they’re burning files in Syosset.

Quite. This will shred not only the OCA’s cred, but also that of Jillions and Lyonyo. Will Lyonyo throw Jillions under the bus? After all, he has more stones than Mollard does. However, even if Lyonyo deep-sixes Jillions, his failure to contain the fire still stains him. After all, he had the duty to see to it that Mollard did SOMETHING… and Lyonyo sat stunned in the headlights whilst Mollard drooled away merrily (as per usual). Lyonyo has too many enemies… Jillions has too few friends. Someone will pay for this mess… and Lyonyo will do his best to see that it isn’t him.

Perspirin’ minds wanna know… what’ll happen to Pihach? Is he suddenly going to receive a hankering to remain in the Rodina? Will he get the itch to get a canonical release to become a clergyman of the Mother Church? Interesting, no?

Oh… one last thing… there’s NOTHING on oca.org on this matter. What did you expect from Lil’ Mizz Ginny anyway? She’s a PR flack, not a true journalist. That’s clear even to the feebleminded…

BMD

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Testimony in Storheim Case Questioned

Courtroom

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The defence lawyer for an Orthodox archbishop accused of sexually assaulting two young brothers 28 years ago said that court shouldn’t allow the separate testimony of the alleged victims to support each other’s allegations. Lawyer Jeff Gindin said the testimony offered by the two brothers is prejudicial to Seraphim Storheim and the court can only admit it in exceptional circumstances, adding this case isn’t exceptional. Storheim faces charges of two counts of sexual assault against two 11-year-old boys at his home in Winnipeg during the summer of 1985. He pleaded not guilty to the charges. Storheim was the parish priest at Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral on Manitoba Avenue at the time. Storheim had befriended the boys’ family while 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 all Canada, but was subsequently suspended from that post pending the outcome of the criminal charges and an internal church investigation.

In legal terms, the testimony of the two brothers is called similar-fact evidence… similar testimony about two separate incidents… and isn’t normally admissible in court. This kind of evidence isn’t allowed because rather than judging the accused based on the evidence, it essentially states an accused did this type of behaviour on another occasion, so he more than likely repeated that type of behaviour being considered. Gindin said, “It’s not enough to say it sounds similar, so, we should allow it”, adding combining the testimony of the two brothers does more harm to Storheim than it would help prove the case against him. Crown Attorney Breta Passler made an application that court admit the testimony of the two brothers and consider it in support of their allegations. The brothers, who are now 39, testified this week, but Justice Chris Mainella must determine whether the court can use their testimony in support of both charges. He’ll announce his decision early next week.

Passler said there are strong similarities between the alleged incidents described by each brother… they both came to Winnipeg at Storheim’s invitation and at his own expense, though at separate times. Each brother said Storheim routinely walked around the house naked and invited each boy to touch his genitals. Passler said there was no indication the two brothers had colluded to make up the allegations or one brother had influenced the other. Gindin argued the testimony of the two brothers was extremely different… the first brother to testify was confused about much of the events, his recollection was poor, and he admitted he suffered a range of mental illnesses. Gindin said it was difficult to understand what he was saying, let alone believe he had been the victim of a sexual assault. Gindin said while the second brother was clear and more detailed about his encounter with Storheim, he said that doesn’t mean his testimony should be used to bolster the testimony of the other brother. Gindin said while the two brothers testified they didn’t speak to each other about the alleged assaults after they happened, its unlikely two young brothers who grew up together and even lived together for a number of years as adults wouldn’t have shared details about the incidents with each other before reporting them to police.

15 June 2013

Aldo Santin

Winnipeg Free Press

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/testimony-in-archbishop-case-questioned-211664671.html

Editor’s Note:

Gindin is using a most stupid move in trying to get Storheim off the hook. He’s invoking a legal technicality… that is, Storheim did do questionable things around minors, but you have to let him go because of a technicality. That’s the worst-possible outcome for the OCA. The best-possible outcome would be Storheim copping a plea before any trial. That didn’t happen, so, the next-best-possible outcome would be a “confidential settlement”, but the plaintiffs ruled that out. Actually, the next-best outcome would be the court finding Storheim guilty. The Holy Synod would then defrock him… there’d be damage, not slight, but it’d close the matter for good. The shit would take a long time to sink to the bottom, but it would, and the Holy Synod (and MC) might actually learn a lesson and do some real housecleaning to avoid a similar tits-up in future. The worst-possible outcome is Storheim getting sprung on a technicality. There’d be no closure… none at all. The controversy would continue to simmer away, and Mollard’s passivity wouldn’t improve matters.

In short, this is still a gigantic shit sandwich. The Holy Synod (and MC) have been avoiding it for years… all that’s happened is that it’s gotten juicier and more noxious. If the Holy Synod doesn’t defrock Storheim, it’ll shred the last threads of the OCA’s cred. Will they? We SHALL see…

BMD  

 

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Storheim Pleads Not Guilty in Winnipeg Court

01 the judge

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Let’s keep this one short n’ sweet. Click here for all the gory detail on Seraphim Storheim’s first day in court. Note well that the GOAA made a similar case go away tout suite by making the plug-ugly cop a plea. This is another sign of the malaise at the centre of the OCA… both Fathausen and Mollard couldn’t make Storheim cop in order to spare the Church a long, ugly, expensive, and unedifying spectacle. This is one case where Mollard’s passivity and timidity is going to cause grievous wounds to the OCA structure. At present, the OCA needs time to heal after shitcanning El Gordo. This will ensure that won’t happen. However, Sobor participants assure me that this is actually the least-harmful outcome. That’s something to ponder… Mollard’s no prize, but he’s no Dahulich or Peterson either… what times we live in, no?

BMD  

 

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