Greek Orthodox church settles sex abuse case
A Jacksonville church has settled claims with a former parishioner who said he was sexually assaulted by a priest who later tried to adopt him.
But his lawsuit continues against the archdiocese that oversees St. John the Divine Greek Orthodox Church.
The confidential settlement between the Atlantic Boulevard church and the 23-year-old man was reached during mediation, according to a report filed in court Friday by the mediator. The report also announced a complete settlement with the retired priest, the Very Rev. Nicholas T. Graff, though Graff’s lawyer said the priest didn’t participate in any settlement.
“While I can’t talk about the details because of the confidentiality agreement, I can say that Father Graff did not participate in the settlement and to his knowledge, no monies were spent on his behalf,” said Graff’s attorney Thomas Fallis. The church’s lawyer didn’t return several phone messages left at his office and with a representative.
Attorney Robert Spohrer, who represents the plaintiff, said Wednesday his client “is pleased that one aspect of the case is resolved.”
Litigation is continuing with the New York-based Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. The case is scheduled for trial June 8.
“We have not had discussions with them yet. There will probably be discussions in the future,” Spohrer said.
The archdiocese’s attorney, Charles Pillans, said settlement remains a possibility but he couldn’t say if an agreement is close.
The plaintiff, identified in court papers as John Doe, filed the lawsuit in 2007 along with his mother and grandparents. It said Graff exhibited obsessive and inappropriate interest in him from the time he was a teenager, showered him with gifts, induced him into moving into the priest’s home and sexually assaulted him.
Graff offered the man’s mother $300,000 to surrender her parental rights and tried to adopt him, according to the complaint.
At the time it was filed, Fallis called the lawsuit meritless and its allegations spurious.
Spohrer said the remaining case against the archdiocese deals with its role in the assignment and supervision of Graff and its handling and investigation of previous abuse allegations.
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