Attorney For Beaten Greek Priest Speaks Out

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Date Published: 11/11/2009

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY (Bay News 9) — A Greek priest is speaking out through his attorney about the day police say a Marine reservist attacked him with a tire iron.

”He’s recovering well,” said Jerry Theophilopoulos, the attorney for 29-year-old Alexios Marakis. ”He suffered some serious injuries to his head and to his face.”

Tampa police say Lance Cpl. Jasen D. Bruce, 28, called 911 saying an Arabic male tried to rob him.

Theophilopoulos says they believe it was a crime of hate.

Alexios had gotten lost driving in Tampa and pulled over to ask directions. That’s when police say Bruce attacked him.

Bruce later told officers he thought the priest was a terrorist. Bruce’s attorney said Tuesday the priest tried to sexually attack his client.

But Theophilopoulos says it’s nothing more than a distraction defense.

”You have a situation here where he basically beat my client with a tire iron,” he said. ”He’s got to say something and unfortunately what occurred in the Catholic church he’s kind of using that trying to ride and riding those coattails to say it was something sexual when in fact it wasn’t.”

Police have video of the incident, which happened near a downtown Tampa apartment complex. They aren’t releasing it yet, but Theophilopoulos says he’s heard what’s on it.

”It does show Father Alexios running around in a circle trying to avoid the defendant who just kept chasing him, he said. ”In fact, the video spills outside the parking garage where basically he hits him again with the crowbar.”

It’s unknown at this point, when police will release the 911 call or the video.

Information from Central Florida News 13’s Bright House Networks affiliate Bay News 9 was used in this report.