Adoption Files Unsealed in Local Greek Priest Investigation

Author: Jackelyn Barnard
Date Published: 10/20/2007
Fr. Nicholas Graff
Fr. Nicholas Graff

JACKSONVILLE,FL — Court records involving a First Coast Priest who tried to adopt one of his parishioners have been released.

The file was sealed until Thursday afternoon, after the boy’s family’s petition was granted by a judge to have the file unsealed.

First Coast News obtained the file exclusively on Friday.

According to court records, the petition for adoption for the boy was filed by The Very Reverend Nicholas Graff in August 2005.

Graff was the priest at the St. John the Divine Greek Orthodox Church for the last 17 years. Church members say he retired from the post in June.

Graff states in his petition that he desired to adopt the young man and that, ”I have enjoyed a parental relationship with him for the past seven years and wish to legally adopt him as my child and heir.”

Graff also states in the petition that the young man’s mother, ”…has been notified and is in agreement with this adoption.”

First Coast News did not find an agreement in the file. The mother’s attorney tells First Coast News she never signed a consent form or was notified about the petition.

But we found In the file is a document signed by the mother in 2001. It is an affidavit establishing an ”in-loco-parentis,” or ”in-the-place of parent” relationship with her son and Graff.

The court record states, the mother, ”…agrees to have her child reside on occasion with the Very Reverend Nicholas T. Graff….” and that he will, ”…assume full responsibility….acting in place of the mother in all relationships and communications with the school….medical appointments.”

The file also contains the boy’s consent to being adopted by Graff.

In January 2006, five months after Graff started the adoption process, he withdrew his petition. He gave no reason other than he did not wish to pursue the matter.

The family’s attorneys declined to discuss the file or the case any further because of the sensitive nature of the case.

Graff’s attorneys did not return our phone call.