Abuse probe cites Orthodox priest

Author: Tara Dooley and Jason Spencer
Date Published: 05/04/2004

The Greek Orthodox church has suspended a priest who also works as supervisor for the Houston school district as it investigates sex-abuse claims from nearly 30 years ago in Ohio, a bishop confirmed Monday.

The Very Rev. Gabriel Barrow of St. John the Theologian Church in Webster is not allowed to function as a priest until church officials complete an investigation and determine his future in the church, said Bishop Savas of Troas, chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

Savas, speaking in New York City, said he has received no complaints about Barrow since he began working in Webster about seven years ago.

Houston Independent School District officials have confined Barrow’s duties as instructional supervisor so that he works only in the northeast office and not in classrooms, spokesman Terry Abbott said.

”In 25 years here, his record is spotless,” Abbott said. ”He’s an instructional supervisor who works directly with teachers and not children.”

Calls to Barrow’s home, church and office were not returned.

Abbott said in a statement that Harris County Child Protective Services informed HISD in December of 30-year-old allegations against Barrow.

The district investigated the claims and spoke with an accuser from Ohio, Abbott said.

”The district’s investigation failed to determine any basis for the legal termination of Mr. Barrow’s employment,” Abbott’s statement said.

Barrow started work in the district in 1979 as a history teacher at Barbara Jordan High School. After a stint at DeBakey High School, he was assigned to the central office in 1988.

Abbott said Barrow ”had been planning for some time” to retire May 22.

Savas said two men have officially filed complaints against Barrow and are waiting to tell their story to a ”spiritual court.”

The archdiocese postponed the court date, originally scheduled for April 26, because the investigation was not complete, Savas said. It has not been rescheduled, he said.

”We are conducting the best investigation we can,” he said. ”These things simply take time.”

One of Barrow’s accusers, who asked that he not be identified, told the Chronicle that Barrow molested him in 1975 when the priest worked for the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America at a church in Ohio. The man was a teenager at the time.