‘A severe breach of trust’: Orthodox priest jailed for molesting boy
A decade after becoming a Russian Orthodox priest, Stanislav Vakhabov invited a 14-year-old boy from overseas to stay in his Sydney church flat, where he would be locked away and repeatedly sexually molested.
The 36-year-old, also known as Father Christopher, was on Friday jailed for at least five years and seven months for the crimes he committed within his home attached to the back of the Croydon parish.
His teenage victim, whose heavily religious mother sent him to Australia in 2014 to be under Vakhabov’s care, was told they would sleep in separate rooms and he would be provided with religious guidance.
Instead, he would be isolated, hugged, kissed on the lips and have his genitals touched by the priest, who gave him alcohol and sedative medication to facilitate his sexual advances.
The elastic waistband of the boy’s track pants would be torn as Vakhabov forcefully tried to remove them while on top of him in the single bed he demanded they share – claiming “there was something wrong” with his couch.
Vakhabov also locked the boy inside his unit while in church and told him he wasn’t allowed to leave on his own.
He was found guilty by a NSW District Court jury in February of detaining the teenager for his own sexual gratification, grooming a child for unlawful sexual activity and four counts of underage indecent assault.
Judge Kate Traill on Friday jailed Vakhabov for a maximum of seven years and six months, backdated to May 2015 and accounting for time already spent in immigration detention at Villawood and on Christmas Island.
“[He] was, in essence, living a double life,” she said.
“He committed the offences during the course of his Christian duties and, in fact, in the church grounds.”
Judge Traill said Vakhabov’s “predatory behaviour demonstrated a severe breach of trust” given his position was “intimately interwoven” with the offending.
The Moldova-born foreign national became a Russian Orthodox priest in 2004 and came to Australia on a two-year, church-sponsored working visa in 2013.
The court heard Vakhabov initially made contact with the boy around April 2014 over VK, a Russian social media platform similar to Facebook, and they chatted before communicating via Skype up to four times a week.
The boy had never travelled internationally before but Vakhabov arranged his visa and was his official sponsor.
When first interviewed by police, he “did not disclose any sexual abuse or inappropriate behaviour” because Vakhabov had told him “if he told the truth, he would not be allowed to return to his family”, Judge Traill said.
She cited comments in his victim impact statement, including that he “could not fully describe his soul’s pain”.
Vakhabov will be eligible for parole from December 14, 2020 and is likely to be deported once released.