Judge reserves decision on ex-archbishop perv’s appeal

Author: Dean Pritchard
Date Published: 10/31/2014
Orthodox archbishop Seraphim Storheim.
Orthodox archbishop Seraphim Storheim.

The Manitoba Court of Appeal has reserved its decision in the case of a former archbishop recently convicted of sexually assaulting an altar boy nearly 30 years ago.

Kenneth (Seraphim) Storheim and his lawyers appeared in court Friday to argue his conviction should be overturned.

Defence lawyer Jeff Gindin told the court newly uncovered “photographic and documentary evidence” casts doubt on trial testimony relating to when the victim was allegedly assaulted. Gindin also argued Justice Chris Mainella misinterpreted the evidence of one witness, Connie Kucharczyk, and wrongly concluded she was biased toward Storheim, a close friend.

At trial, court heard testimony the sexual assault occurred in 1985 when the then pre-teen victim was living with Storheim in Winnipeg and serving as an altar boy. The victim testified Storheim walked naked in the home and would lie on the floor with his hand on his penis.

The victim said on one occasion he and Storheim were naked in the victim’s bedroom when Storheim, under the guise of sexual education, touched his penis looking for pubic hair and checked his pyjamas for semen stains. Storheim, the victim said, also invited him to touch his testicle, which he did.

At trial, Mainella acquitted Storheim of sexually assaulting the victim’s brother, also an altar boy, ruling his evidence was not “sufficiently reliable.”

Gindin said since Storheim’s conviction, several people have uncovered pictures showing the victim’s brother at church functions in 1986. The now adult brothers testified they stayed with Storheim — at different times — a year earlier.

In his ruling, Mainella rejected Kucharczyk’s testimony as biased because she and Storheim at one time planned to get married. Gindin said a review of the trial transcripts shows at no time did Storheim or Kucharczyk testify they had contemplated marriage.

Storheim was the rector at Holy Trinity Sobor in Winnipeg between 1984 and 1987. He was elected Canadian archbishop of the Orthodox Church in America in 2007.

Storheim remains free on bail.

dean.pritchard@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @deanatwpgsun