Deacon Bithos Charged with Sexual Misconduct
A new case of alleged sexual misconduct has developed for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, charges directed at Deacon George Bithos from Austin, Texas, according to multi-page legal documents obtained by The National Herald. Deacon Bithos has been accused by a Greek Orthodox woman of sexually molesting her in 1982 when she was young and had gone to Bithos’ office for dental work when he was practicing, and before he was ordained to the Deaconate. He denied the allegations.
In February, Texas Governor Rick Perry appointed Bithos as ombudsman for the state-supported living centers for Texans with mental disabilities. When Bithos was a layman he had been honored with the title of Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Bithos is married with adult children and the grandfather of five.
Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver suspended Bithos from all Liturgical and Ecclesiastical duties based on a written accusation by the alleged victim. The Metropolitan did not return a call from TNH. Nor did Bithos, but his attorney Bruce Howell told the paper “The allegations are totally false” and said that his client is “innocent, there is not evidence against him.”
Bithos on April 6 filed a petition with a Dallas court requesting he be allowed to take a deposition from his accuser. In his petition to the court, he also wrote “the Archdiocese has been dilatory in conducting an investigation and in calling a spiritual court as required by the policies and canons of the Archdiocese.” The court document also sates that “to date petitioner remains suspended because of the single allegation against him by respondent from 28 years ago, over 20 years before Bithos was ordained to Deaconate”.
Attorney Tahira Khan Merritt, representing the alleged victim, asked the court to deny Bithos’ request “for protection from further victimization by Bithos.” On May 4, the court decided to allowed Bithos to take the alleged victim’s deposition, Howell told the TNH without any further comment.
CASE FROM 1982
Bithos is the son of the late priest Peter Bithos, a prominent Greek Orthodox clergyman who served for a number of years at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox parish in Dallas. Deacon Bithos practiced dentistry in Dallas for a number of years. The alleged victim was a member of the Holy Trinity parish in Dallas and belonged to the Youth Group there. According to court documents: “In the spring of 1982 while undergoing the dental procedure and while she was under the effects of nitrous oxide, Bithos fondled her.” It was also stated in the documents that “She was shocked and embarrassed to the point where she could not and did not speak of this assault to anyone. She never returned to Bithos’ office again. After the incident she rarely attended church so as not to run into Bithos.”
According to the court papers, “In late 1998 on early 1999 she overheard a group of women talking at church and was stunned to realize that they were discussing Bithos and describing how they had undergone exactly the same inappropriate sexual contact.” According to the documents, “at approximately this same time period, Bithos closed his dental office and moved to England with his wife. He subsequently let his dental license in Texas expire. While in England, Bithos received his doctorate in Medieval Studies from the University of Durham in 2003 and held a position as registrar of Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. In November 2003, Bithos returned to Dallas and to the Holy Trinity church and was ordained as a Deacon in the Greek Orthodox Church.” The presiding priest at the time of the Holy Trinity parish in Dallas was Rev. Nicholas Katinas, whose pederasty scandal in 2006 shocked the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
In 2004 Bithos was appointed as Executive Director of Texas Conference of Churches in Austin and assigned to Transfiguration church in Austin. On October 21, 2007 Bithos returned to the Holy Trinity in Dallas to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, while he was preparing to be ordained a priest by Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver. According to court documents, the alleged victim “made her initial report to Fr. Christopher Constantinides, her pastor at Holy Trinity.” She told him about the sexual incident with Bithos and she explained to him that her report was made out of concern for other vulnerable women who might be especially in danger since Bithos was seeking ordination as a priest. She also reportedly told Constantinides that she was not seeking legal action but wanted the Orthodox Church to be aware of the incident and take appropriate steps. She also told him that she had heard that there were other victims. She said that Constantinides told her to go to confession.
On October 27, 2007, Constantinides, Basil Xeros – a church employee – the victim, and Deacon Bithos met at the bookstore of the Holy Trinity church where she confronted Bithos. According to court documents “They heard (the victim) recount in detail how Bithos had inappropriately