Ex-Clergyman, Sexually Abused at 17 by His Priest, Attempted Suicide
NEW YORK – Alex Prodes, a 53-year-old former Greek Orthodox priest (defrocked by choice), lives on his Social Security disability income, two years ago tried to kill himself. The divorced father of two – he sees his children only twice a year – referring to his failed suicide attempt asked his doctor: “why didn’t I die?”
Prodes didn’t want to live anymore. He says that in 1979, 17 years old and the leader of the altar boys at the Evangelismos Church in Easton, PA, Prodes was sexually abused by Archimandrite Stanley Adamakis, and it was that abuse that led to Prodes’ emotional downfall, culminating in the act of trying to take his own life.
Adamakis had a history of homosexuality and pedophilia, about which TNH reported extensively. The Archdiocese was then headed by Archbishop Iakovos and his Chancellor, Rev. George Bakopoulos, was in charge of appointments and transfers. Adamakis was sent from parish to parish, sexually molesting young boys virtually wherever he went.
Adamakis, who began his life in the church as an altar boy at the Annunciation Cathedral in Boston, MA, later served as Iakovos’ driver when the latter was the Cathedral’s priest.
Soon after Adamakis was ordained a celibate (unmarried) priest, he engaged in pedophilia. First in New England, and then Easton, where he abused Prodes, his brother, and a first cousin of theirs.
Additional incidents followed at parishes in New Mexico and California, and as we reported in 2007, the Archdiocese paid over $1 million to the victims in an out-of-court settlement. One of Adamakis’ victims was related to him.
Adamakis spend seven years in jail in California, but continued the abuse after his release.
He was found dead at age 61 on July 20, 2003, in the parking lot of the Panorama City, CA apartment complex in which he lived, shot to death with an assault rifle by his 24-year-old lover, Tu Luong Hua, who was subsequently convicted of first degree murder.
ABUSE, AND DEATH THREATS
In a four-hour interview with TNH, Prodes detailed the abuse he suffered at Adamakis’ hands. He brought along several supporting documents, including a handwritten note by his victim cousin, John Bednar, then-13, detailing his own abuse.
Prodes also provided a copy of an extensive letter dated December 29, 1979, written by his mother, Aspasia, to then-Bishop Maximos of Pittsburgh, which describes Adamakis’ acts toward her two sons and Bednar.
Prodes began studying to be a priest at the Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology (HCHC), and then went to St. Tikhon’s Seminary in Waymart, PA to complete his studies.
“I felt God’s calling” from age 11, when he served as an altar boy, Prodes told TNH. Then Adamakis arrived to the parish, with his “money, custom black Trans-Am, and hair fixed nice,” and modeled himself after Iakovos, whom Adamakis called his spiritual father, Prodes said.
“My dad was the parish president and Adamakis became very close to our family. He came to the house often; he invited us to his house. He started giving us gifts and money. He let me use his car. He took us to dinner; he was trying to endear himself to us, especially me, as the head of the altar boys. I was 17, my brother was 14, and our cousin was 13,” he continued.
“I had a lot of respect for him, but then he started to shock me,” Prodes said, relaying how Adamakis, during confession, asked Prodes whether he had sex with girls, and encouraging him to describe the sexual acts in specific detail.
Then, Prodes says, Adamakis became more aggressive, probing Prodes both in and out of confession as to whether he thought about other men sexually, and whether he sexually pleasured himself, and/or watched pornography.
“I come from a good family, I was naive,” Prodes says. “I didn’t have any experience with homosexuals let along with a homosexual priest. I was confused; I didn’t know what to make out of that. I thought maybe this is normal. Maybe this is what the confessor asks because I had not been to confession before.”
Then, Adamakis “started to get closer and closer, He started to give me hugs, kisses on the cheek. He brought us over to his house, where he had a lot of homosexual pornographic movies and magazines. One day, I told him I would to tell my mom and dad. We were in all in his house: me, my brother, and my cousin. He took out a gun and threatened to kill us and my parents if I said anything. I was scared I didn’t say anything. He grabbed me he put the gun to my head.
“One day after Liturgy, he and I were in the altar and I was putting some things on the Holy Table. He came up behind me and…I was shocked, I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid.”
Prodes and Bednar went to Adamakis’ house one day to interview him about a project Prodes had for school about theological differences between Orthodox and Catholics. After the interview, Prodes went downstairs, leaving Adamakis and Bednar alone upstairs. Adamakis came on to Bednar, but the latter pushed him away and then, a few hours later, wrote the letter – now in TNH’s possession – about what transpired.
Aspasia Prodes found the letter, asked Prodes what was going on, at which point “I started crying and told her everything.” That’s when she wrote the letter to Maximos.
“Maximos called me into his office,” Prodes relays. He asked me about it, and I told him everything. He didn’t say much. The only thing he said was: ‘don’t worry, Alex, we are going to take care of it. I am going to remove him.’ He said ‘please don’t go to the police, let the Church, let me, let the Archdiocese take care of the issue.’
Other clergy told him the same thing. “My parents are so spiritual and so obedient. They are church people. They were convinced that the Archdiocese would resolve the issue. But they didn’t do anything; they simply transferred Adamakis to another parish.”
Both the Pittsburgh Diocese and the Archdiocese told the Prodes family not to go to the police, promising instead to resolve the issue themselves. At that point, they transferred Adamakis to New Mexico.
The Prodes brothers and Bednar have now asked for $2.4 million in damages, but the Archdiocese refused because the statute of limitations has expired and there is no one at the Archdiocese now who can substantiate the allegations. Now-retired Metropolitan Maximos is unable to testify due to illness.
Instead, the Archdiocese has offered to pay up to $10,000 per person for a year of counseling.
The Prodes brothers and the Archdiocese’s Executive Director of Administration, Jerry Demetriou, have all given sworn depositions.
Prodes told TNH of other sexual assaults against him, by HCHC officials, when he studied there. At press time, TNH had not verified those allegations.
AN OPEN BOOK
After graduating from St. Tikhon’s, Prodes was ordained a priest. He divorced 11 years ago, stating that the abuse he suffered caused him to turn to gambling as an outlet. “I was destroyed physically and mentally. Two years ago, I attempted suicide by swallowing 60 sleeping pills. I wanted to put an end to my misery.” Subsequently, Prodes went for psychiatric treatment.
But why did Prodes take so long to come forward? “A lot of factors. The community, my family, my name, my parents, my children, my wife – it was just an embarrassment. It was not easy. I have been wrestling with it ever since it happened.
“Even though it has taken this long, 37 I finally said I don’t care what the consequences are for me. What else can I suffer? I have lost everything. I want my story to be known. I want to have healing, closure. They destroyed my life. I want to see justice done. They all protect each other. That close-knit community of homosexuals who cover for one another.”
Prodes maintains that he is by no means a homosexual. “I hate it, I have nothing to do with homosexuality and have never had a homosexual activity [outside of the abuse he endured], ever.”
Prodes says if he had to do it all over again, he never would have become a priest. At HCHC, “I saw all the corruption, homosexuality, alcohol, drugs, sex, and rapes (he mentioned specific females’ names and male students who are now priests).
His defrocking from the priesthood was at his own request.
There were implications at one time that he was involved with a 16-year-old girl from his parish, but Prodes insists that there was nothing inappropriate about it. He was having problems with his wife at the time, he says, but his interaction with the girl – via Internet chats – was innocent.
“Are you telling the truth,” we asked? “Yes,” Prodes replied. “I’m an open book.”