Greek Cleric Arrested In Fondling Of Boy

Author: Derek Rose and Richard Weir
Date Published: 04/19/2002

The self-appointed archbishop of a small Greek Orthodox church in Queens was arrested yesterday for allegedly fondling a teenage boy in 1999, three decades after he was convicted of similar charges in Pennsylvania.

Pangratios Vrionis, 60, of the Sts. Fanourios and Gerasimos Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Woodside, was charged with sexually abusing a then 14-year-old boy inside his rectory Feb. 1, 1999, authorities said.

The priest played a gay pornographic videotape while he put his hands down the boy’s pants and fondled him, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. Vrionis tried to molest him a second time, but the boy rebuffed him, prosecutors said.

Vrionis had been instructing the boy in Greek at the time. He teaches language and religion classes at the white stucco church at 48th Ave. and 44th St.

Detectives began investigating the case after the boy’s mother walked into the 108th Precinct stationhouse April 5 and made a complaint.

Vrionis was ordained in 1963 as a priest with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese – the nation’s largest Greek church. In 1969, he was charged with sodomizing two 14-year-old boys at his Harrisburg, Pa., home, law enforcement sources said.

The church defrocked him the following year, after Vrionis pleaded guilty, said the Rev. Michael Kontogiorgis, vice chancellor with the archdiocese.

Vrionis was sentenced to 23 months’ probation, according to Pennsylvania prosecutors.

Excommunicated from the mainstream Greek Orthodox Church, Vrionis came to Queens where, one law enforcement said, “he set up shop.”

“He has no direct or indirect relationship with us, and has not since December 1970,” Kontogiorgis said.

Vrionis could not be reached for comment.