Ex archbishop denies molesting twin boys

Author: Dean Pritchard | QMI Agency
Date Published: 09/12/2013
Publication: Sun News (Canada)
Archbishop Kenneth William (Seraphim) Storheim leaves the law courts building on Thurs., Sept. 12, 2013 in Winnipeg, Man. Credits: Kevin King/Winnipeg Sun/QMI Agency
Archbishop Kenneth William (Seraphim) Storheim leaves the law courts building on Thurs., Sept. 12, 2013 in Winnipeg, Man. Credits: Kevin King/Winnipeg Sun/QMI Agency

WINNIPEG — Former archbishop Kenneth (Seraphim) Storheim took the witness stand Thursday to deny allegations he sexually molested two boys while a priest in Winnipeg nearly 30 years ago.

Storheim, who went on to become Canadian Archbishop of the Orthodox Church in America, is accused of molesting two pre-teen twin brothers in the mid-1980s when he was the rector at Holy Trinity Sobor in Winnipeg.

Storheim admitted hugging the brothers and engaging one of the boys in a conversation about puberty — “One of the stupider things I have done,” he said — but denied accusations he engaged in physically inappropriate behaviour.

“I felt compassion for the family and the very difficult circumstances they had in life,” he said.

Court has heard the boys each spent a period of time living with Storheim over the summer at their mother’s request.

The now 39-year-old brothers previously testified Storheim routinely walked around the house naked and would lay naked on the living room floor holding his penis.

“It did not happen and it’s very inadvisable when you have people arriving all the time unexpectedly,” Storheim testified.

One brother alleged Storheim tried to get him to touch his penis and on a couple of occasions tried to get into bed with him.

The second brother alleged Storheim inspected his genitals for pubic hair and his pyjamas for semen. He also alleged Storheim hugged him in bed.

Storheim admitted engaging one of the brothers and another boy in a discussion about puberty, sparked by a Bible reading that discussed “discharges.”

“I simply explained what they were and that they occurred, that they were natural, normal and nothing to be afraid of,” Storheim said.

Storheim said the boy asked him to look at his pyjamas for evidence of staining. Storheim said he looked at the pyjamas and told the boy “there was nothing, don’t worry.”

Storheim said a week later he received an angry phone call from the boys’ mother.

“She said she sent (her boys) to be taught scripture, not dirty stuff and she hung up,” he said. “I was flabbergasted. I was presuming she was upset about me talking about puberty with the boys.”

Storheim said he tried phoning the woman several times “to make amends,” without success.

Years later, Storheim was passing through the family’s city and he stopped at their house. No one was home and he left a note at their door.

“I wanted to make sure I conveyed my apology to her and ask for her forgiveness,” Storheim said. “I probably stepped over a pastoral line.”