Greek Orthodox Church faces sex-abuse claim

Author: Nigel Hunt
Date Published: 10/21/2004

THE Greek Orthodox Church has been drawn into the sex-abuse storm that has been enveloping the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches, with an Adelaide man alleging he was sexually assaulted by a senior member of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.

The man, now 20, is taking legal action against the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, over the alleged abuse and treatment that followed it.

He alleges he was subject to inappropriate sexual behaviour by the ordained official. The alleged abuse occurred at a theological college last year.

He alleges the church knew or should have known of the official’s behaviour and failed to protect him, was negligent and breached its duty of care.

The man, who was in his first year of study to become a priest, was expelled from the college, which cannot be identified, and had privileges – chanting and denial of Holy Communion – stripped by the church.

The man’s father said yesterday the events had traumatised his son and his family. His son now was seeing a psychiatrist and “was physically and mentally” shattered.

“I have been a faithful member of the church for many years and have raised thousands of dollars for it,” he said. “We have been faithful servants and now all we feel is that we have been betrayed. Other parents should know this if they are considering sending their sons there.”

Lawyer Susan Litchfield, of Duncan Basheer Hannon, has sent a letter of intention to Greek Orthodox Archbishop Stylianos advising of the claim. Lawyer Nicholas Pappas, acting for Archbishop Stylianos, has acknowleged the letter and, in subsequent letters, asked for more details of the alleged inappropriate conduct.

Ms Litchfield said if settlement negotiations were unsuccessful court action would be initiated.

She said her client alleges he had been sexually assaulted, in the form of inappropriate touching and stroking, by the church official on three occasions.

Mr Pappas said any allegations of inappropriate conduct by the official “are strenuously denied”. “The Archdiocese views these matters very seriously, has a very good record in this area and investigates matters thoroughly internally,” he said. “When it responds publicly it does so after a very thorough internal analysis of the facts.”