DA Brown: Priest Admits Sexually Abusing Teen Boy

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Date Published: 05/15/2003

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown today announced that a priest who heads his own separate congregation of the Greek Orthodox faith in Sunnyside, Queens has pled guilty to sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy in 1999.

District Attorney Brown said, the defendant has admitted that he attacked and sexually abused a young boy who had been entrusted in his care. His conduct not only betrayed his priestly calling but also inflicted deep psychological harm upon his young victim. The defendant’s plea of guilty provides the certainty of a criminal conviction and his permanent registration and internet posting as a dangerous sexual offender which will protect the safety of other children. The disposition also avoids causing further hurt to the victim who has suffered terribly as a result of his ordeal.

District Attorney Brown identified the defendant as James Vrionis, 59, of 44-02 48th Avenue in Sunnyside, Queens, a defrocked Greek Orthodox Church priest who identifies himself an archbishop and who heads Sts. Fanourios and Gerasimos Cathedral in Sunnyside, Queens. The defendant pled guilty late yesterday to Sex Abuse in the Third Degree and Attempted Sex Abuse in the Third Degree before Queens Criminal Court Judge Steven W. Paynter who then imposed a sentence of one year probation to include a full 12 months of counseling and ordered him registered as a sex offender under Megan’s Law, a sanction that obligates the defendant to report his address to authorities every 90 days and requires that his photo and criminal status as a convicted Level Three sex offender be shared with schools.

The defendant admitted that he sexually attacked the victim, a 14-year-old boy, between February 1 and February 28, 1999 by playing a pornographic video of men having sex, forcefully touching the boy sexually and masturbating in front of him. The incident took place inside the defendant’s residence at 44-02 48th Avenue in Sunnyside where the priest had been tutoring the boy in the Greek language.

According to District Attorney Brown, the defendant was convicted in Pennsylvania in 1970 of sodomizing two teenage boys after previously being defrocked as a priest of the Greek Orthodox Church for ”disobedience.”

Assistant District Attorney John D. Carroll of the District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau prosecuted the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Marjory D. Fisher, Bureau Chief, and Kenneth M. Appelbaum and Lucinda C. Suarez, Deputy Chiefs, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for Major Crimes Gregory L. Lasak.