Fifth Greek American Joins in Child Molestation Suit Against Katinas
BOSTON – A first generation Greek American has come forward as the latest victim to accuse defrocked Dallas priest Nicholas Katinas of allegedly molesting him when he was child.
According to court papers, this newest plaintiff joined the existing other four plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the Metropolis of Denver, and the Holy Trinity Church in Dallas, Texas. The lawsuit is also directed against Katinas personally.
As stated in the court document, filed under index number 0703807D, the latest victim, referred to as “John Doe V,” met Katinas between the age of 8 and 9, when he was an altar boy in the Holy Trinity Church. He was supported and encouraged to serve in the altar by his parents, who were of Greek origin and were longstanding members of the parish years before Katinas’ assignment there. The lawsuit states that at or about the year 1984, Katinas used his position as a clergyman to gain intimate access to the innermost thoughts of John Doe V, and during a discussion about the opposite sex, he spoke suggestively to the boy, saying that “he was a handsome boy,” and that “all the girls would be after him.” Shortly afterwards, the alleged victim states that Katinas began to molest him.
The lawsuit states that the alleged sexual acts between Katinas and his victim began when the boy was 13 or 14 years old, and lasted for approximately seven years, usually taking place on Sunday, around 30 times a year. According to court documents, when the victim’s mother learned in 2007 that Katinas was accused of molesting children, she told her son, who immediately replied “I’m not surprised.”
A court date has been set for Monday September 22, 2008. The jury trial will take place in Dallas, Texas, and is expected to be open to the public and members of the press. The judge has set a pre-trial meeting for Tuesday May 20, 2008 to inquire about the possibility of a settlement before the case is tried, however both sides have already begun taking depositions and preparing for the trial, in the event that a settlement is not reached on May 20th.
In such an event, Archbishop Demetrios himself will be called to give a sworn deposition. If the case does reach trial, sworn depositions become public record and the Archbishop may even be called to testify in court.
Although no set amount of monetary restitution is mentioned, in a similar case involving a Roman Catholic priest in Texas, the court awarded the victims $156 million.
The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Tahira Khan Merritt, specializes in child molestation cases perpetrated by clergymen, and has a history of earning legal victories with large rewards for her clients.
The Archdiocese and the Holy Trinity Church in Dallas petitioned the court to reveal the names and other information of the alleged victims who have filed suit, but the judge refused the request and ordered the plaintiffs’ identity to be kept a secret.
The Archdiocese and the Holy Trinity Church have also submitted a request for leave to designate Nicholas Katinas as a responsible third party, which means that Katinas would be held accountable for his own actions, and not the Archdiocese or the parish. Sources report that Katinas remains in his home island of Rhodes, Greece, where he has been living since 2006.
Following court permission, the plaintiffs’ lawyer Ms. Merritt served the summons to Katinas’ wife, who was in their Texas home, however the summons was not answered by the court’s deadline.
The child molestation allegations made against Nicholas Katinas, a former priest of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, shocked the Archdiocese and the Greek American Community when they were first heard about three years ago. Until then, Katinas was widely viewed as one of the most successful clergymen in the Archdiocese, having served at the Dormition Church in Olympia Fields, Ill., after which he moved on to a 28-year stint as Pastor of the Holy Trinity Church in Dallas, Texas. He was subsequently accussed of sexual molestation of minors, most of whom served as altar boys.
A second generation Greek American, who goes by the initials “D.Z.,” first came forth with the charges on October 14, 2005, and gave an exclusive interview to The National Herald about the waking nightmare he says he suffered at Katinas’ hands on December 13, 2007.
In February 2006, the Archdiocese’s Assistant Chancellor Rev. Michael T. Kontogiorgis publicly spoke to a congregation of 400-plus persons about Katinas’ guilt during a personal visit to the Dallas parish. A few days later, the Archdiocese released an official statement acknowledging that Katinas sexually molested young boys.
In spite of all this, Archbishop Demetrios tried desperately to save Katinas from being defrocked, by transferring him from the Metropolis of Denver, where he was serving, to the Direct Archdiocesan District, where he would be under the Archbishop’s direct ecclesiastical and canonical jurisdiction. Archbishop Demetrios staunchly refused to allow Katinas to be tried by a spiritual court, which was expected to propose his removal from the priesthood. The Archbishop maintained that Katinas “is 72 years old, has repented, and wishes to be buried as a member of the clergy.”
However, public outcry both from within the Church and the Greek American Community eventually compelled Archbishop Demetrios to send Katinas to appear before a spiritual court, which defrocked him in July 2007. Meanwhile, the Archdiocese’s official newspaper the Orthodox Observer did not report Katinas’ return to lay status until six months later.
Until now, five alleged victims have come forward to pursue legal action against the Archdiocese, the Metropolis of Denver, the Holy Trinity Church in Dallas, and Katinas personally.
Following the recent inclusion of the fifth plaintiff in the lawsuit, the complaint was updated. According to new information included in the charges, Rev. Nicholas Triantafillou, the current President of Hellenic College/Holy Cross School of Theology, knew and concealed Katinas’ acts of child molestation ever since 1987, when the former served as the Archbishop’s Vicar General and the Chancellor of the Archdiocese.
Similar accusations have been made against Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver, who served as Chancellor of the Diocese of Chicago at the time. Today, Metropolitan Isaiah is Metropolitan of Denver and a member of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Nearly one year ago, on Pentecost Sunday, Metropolitan Isaiah gave a homily at the Holy Trinity Church in Dallas and lent his full support to Katinas, expressing his doubts about whether the victims were telling the truth. Last month, however, the Metropolitan issued an encyclical on March 6, 2008 declaring April “Abused Children’s Month.” This move drew mixed reviews – and some ire – from priests and laymen.