MI- Registered sex offender is made a minor cleric
Victims ask Michigan archbishop for help
Registered sex offender is made a minor cleric
Group wants assurance he is no longer in a position of authority
Also, it wants hierarch to help ‘get the word out’ about this criminal
SNAP says “Kids may be at risk and adults may be suffering in other communities”
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims has written to a Michigan archbishop asking him whether a registered sex offender is serving as one of his subdeacons. Also, they want him to help them make sure the community knows about the man’s record and the possible danger that he poses.
Members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, sent a letter earlier today to Archbishop Nathaniel Popp (517-522-4800), the leader of the Romanian Episcopate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). They asked him whether or not Robert A. Mitchell is still serving as a subdeacon. The group also asked the archbishop to help them make sure that the public is made aware that this outwardly pious man is a dangerous predator.
(The complete text of the letter, sent by FAX and email, is pasted below.)
Mitchell was convicted of child abduction in 1998 in Illinois. He is registered in Michigan as a tier 3 sex offender and is under a lifetime requirement to register. Tier 3 sex offenses are considered by the state to be the most serious of all sex crime convictions in Michigan.
After his conviction, Mitchell returned to his home state of Michigan. On November 18, 2001, he was received into the Orthodox Church by Popp and joined a parish in Popp’s archdiocese, Saint Raphael of Brooklyn Church in Detroit (23300 W Davison Avenue, Office: 313-533-3437). During his first year as a member of this church, Mitchell served as Head Usher and as Director of Fundraising on the parish council. On March 2, 2003, he was tonsured as a Reader and blessed as Subdeacon by Popp.
Mitchell was also elected president of the Council of Orthodox Christian Churches of Metropolitan Detroit on December 8, 2009. He continued to serve in this position through at least April of 2013.
In addition, Mitchell was involved with another Orthodox group called the Brotherhood of Saint Moses the Black. He founded the Detroit chapter of the group and served as its first president. This national group is an Orthodox outreach to the African American community.
“We want Archbishop Nathaniel to clarify whether or not Mitchell is still serving as a subdeacon in his archdiocese,” said Cappy Larson of SNAP. “The position may not be one of the three major orders of clergy, but it still conveys an odor of sanctity to those who fill it. This is a man who should definitely not be in such a position.”
“Moreover Mitchell’s reputation as a pious believer has spread far beyond his parish, as evidenced by his leadership of the Council of Orthodox Christian Churches of Metropolitan Detroit and by his involvement with the national Orthodox group called the Brotherhood of Saint Moses the Black,” added Melanie Jula Sakoda, also of SNAP.
“We not only need the archbishop’s assurance that Mitchell will not have a position of authority in the Church, we also need his help to make sure that people are aware that Mitchell may pose a danger to kids,” continued Larson. “People can be lulled into a false sense of security by outward appearances, and we don’t want anyone putting their kids at risk by trusting this man without knowing the full story.”
Archbishop Nathaniel Popp
PO Box 309
Grass Lake, MI 49240-0309
March 31, 2014
Re: Subdeacon Robert A. Mitchell
Dear Archbishop Nathaniel:
We are members of a victims’ group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. It has recently come to our attention that in 2003 you blessed a convicted sex offender to serve as one of your subdeacons. As you may or may not know, Robert Aaron Mitchell was convicted of child abduction in 1998 in Illinois, and is registered as a tier 3 sex offender in Michigan. Tier 3 sex offenders are considered the most dangerous in this state.
We are hoping that this predator was not knowingly given this odor of sanctity by you. We also hope that Mitchell will be rapidly removed from any and all leadership positions by you, now that we have made you aware of his record.
However, quietly retiring Mitchell does not adequately address the danger that he poses to children in the community. This convicted predator has developed a public persona as a pious church leader, not only serving in his local parish, but also on Detroit’s Council of Orthodox Churches and in the Brotherhood of Saint Moses the Black.
We urge you to use every avenue open to you to insure that the general public is aware that the outward appearance of this man as a pious Christian leader does not tell the whole story. The kids in the community are at grave risk given the publicity that has been generated depicting Mitchell as an upright man of God.
Please, Archbishop Nathaniel, do the right thing and remove this man from ministry and make sure that his hidden background is as well-known as his religious leadership.
David Clohessy of St. Louis, MO, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
Cappy Larson of San Francisco, CA, SNAP Orthodox Director (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Melanie Jula Sakoda of Moraga, CA, SNAP Orthodox Director (925-708-6175 cell, email@example.com)