Deacon George Bithos Suspended Over Sexual Misconduct Allegations
George Bithos, a deacon in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA), Metropolis of Denver, was suspended by Metropolitan Isaiah Chronopoulos on February 23, 2010, following written allegations of sexual misconduct which occurred in 1982.
The reason behind the suspension would not have been made public, except that Bithos filed a petition in the Texas court against the woman who made the allegations on April 6, 2010. In his petition, Bithos asked the court for the authority to take the deposition of the woman “in order to obtain or perpetuate testimony for use in an anticipated suit.” The petition is linked above.
A response to this petition was filed by Dallas attorney Tahira Khan Merritt on April 27, 2010. That response is also linked above.
Documents attached to the response revealed that the woman first brought her allegations to Father Christopher Constantinides of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Dallas, Texas, in 2007. The woman had seen Bithos serving as a deacon at Holy Trinity and, learning that Bithos was to be ordained a priest, approached Constantinides with her complaint.
Constantinides arranged a meeting between the woman, Bithos, himself and Basil Xeros (an archon who was also on the staff at Holy Trinity). At the meeting the woman was asked to sign a piece of paper absolving the church from legal liability, which she ultimately refused to do.
Chronopoulos was informed of the allegations by Constantinides by telephone, but did nothing to follow up on this report. Bithos continued to serve in the altar at Holy Trinity.
On February 17, 2010, still concerned that Bithos was serving at Holy Trinity and that he would be ordained a priest, the woman sent an email to Chronopoulos, telling him that she had learned that she was not the only victim, and asking that Bithos not be made a priest and also that he not be allowed in a position of trust. Bithos was suspended a few days later.
The woman received a letter from Bithos’ attorney on March 3, 2010, threatening her with legal action unless she withdrew all of her allegations. Stan Shinn, a parishioner at Holy Trinity who had been copied on the woman’s February 17th email, also received a letter threatening legal action against him from Bithos’ attorney.
On March 10, 2010, Shinn wrote to Metropolitan Isaiah Chronopoulos and Bishop Andonios Paropoulos, the chancellor of the GOA. Shinn called on the bishops, in accordance with the GOA’s published sexual misconduct policy, to intervene to prevent Bithos from retaliating against his alleged victim.
Also in this letter, Shinn reported knowledge of the sexual misconduct complaints filed by Holy Trinity parishioners against Bithos and two additional clergy members, the former Father Nicholas Katinas and one unnamed priest. Shinn outlined several ways in which these three misconduct investigations were not handled in accordance with the GOA’s sexual misconduct policy. Moreover, according to Shinn, Father Michael Kontogiorgis explained during the investigation of the unnamed priest that abusive clergy were only disciplined after a pattern of abuse was established, saying, “The first one is free.”
On April 30, 2010, news of the allegations of sexual misconduct made against Bithos appeared in the Austin American-Statesman. Bithos denied the allegations and told the reporters “I could only surmise that the church is the target instead of me, and I’m being used.”