Mother Alleges that Suspended Dallas Priest Molested her Son in 80’s

Author: Theodore Kalmoukos
Date Published: 03/03/2007
Publication: The National Herald

Says her son wakes up at night and still cries about his experience, he won’t baptize his kids

BOSTON – In an interview with the National Herald, the mother of an alleged victim of child sex abuse made a chilling revelation about how she found out her son was allegedly molested by Rev. Nicholas Katinas when he served as an altar boy at Holy Trinity Church in Dallas back in the early 1980’s.

The victim’s mother said she was not yet ready to go public with her family’s name, but speaking upon condition of anonymity, and with her attorney present for the interview, which was conducted a conference call by telephone, she told the National Herald that, during a visit to her son’s home in the Pacific Northwest last year, she asked her son why his children (her grandchildren) had not yet been baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church.

Then, she said, her daughter in-law pulled her aside and broke the news, with her son standing by, in tears.

Asked to share what she knew concerning what had happened to her son. The mother said, “I don’t know the details. But I’m the mother, and I can tell you how I found out. I was visiting my son up in Washington (state), and I asked him why my grandchildren were not baptized. Then my daughter in-law took me aside, and told me we need to talk. She said, ‘Don’t you know what happened to your son? He was molested.’ My son was sitting next me holding his little boy, crying his eyes out and started telling me what went on. Then he said, ‘Mom, how can I take my son to church? How can I have him baptized after what happened to me? I was upset because I felt so dirty going into that church again. I avoided taking communion and everything. I didn’t know what to do.’ “

The woman, who is Russian Orthodox, said her son and his wife told her this during a visit to her son’s home in 2006. “I visit my children two or three times a year,” she said, adding that her son had never said anything to her about his alleged victimization until last year.

The woman said she joined the Greek Orthodox community in Dallas because there was no Russian Orthodox parish in the area. “I came from Cleveland, Ohio where I belonged to the OCA (Orthodox Church of America). But that Church here was very pitiful; they had no support or programs for the children; they didn’t have any activities for them. It was a small community, so I thought it would be better in a big Greek community with lots of children’s activities and a lot of families. I wanted my children to be exposed to the Orthodox Christian faith, not to ethnicity of being Russian or being Greek. The faith was important to me,” she said.

“I WAS TOO AFRAID”

Asked whether she attempted to confront Father Katinas or communicate with the Archdiocese since her son opened up to her about what allegedly happened to him, she said, “No, I was afraid of him. I was just afraid. They are all big people. They’re too high up. Who would’ve believed me?”

I asked him why my grandchildren were not baptized…
my daughter in-law took me aside and said, “Don’t you
know what happened?”

Asked how her son is doing today, the mother said, “He wakes up at night. He cries about it all the time. He feels guilty and very dirty about it. He can’t even really talk about it. He feels very ashamed.”

The victim apparently has not told his mother how long the alleged molestation went on, although the Dallas Morning News reported last week that Tahira Khan Merritt, the family’s attorney, said her client claims to have been sexually abused by Father Katinas in 1983-85.

Asked if her son is undergoing any counseling presently, she said he “can’t even afford it now.”

Asked how she felt after her son and daughter in-law first broke the news to her, she said, “I was totally shocked. I felt like somebody had hit me with a brick. I mean, this is my church. I love my faith, and this terrible thing happened to my son. I felt very betrayed.”

She does not know of any other victims in the Holy Trinity community, however. “No, not from this church,” she said.

Asked if she was absolutely sure she was telling the truth, the alleged victim’s mother said, “Why would I lie? I have no reason to doubt my son.”

Asked whether her son, had revealed his story to any other person besides her, she said, “No. He is just too embarrassed. He feels too ashamed.”

Asked what she is now hoping to accomplish, more than 20 years later, and if money is her motive, she said, “I just want justice and the truth to come out.”

Ms. Merrit noted that monetary compensation is the only way that justice can be served in a civil case, explaining that criminal proceedings against Father Katinas were no longer possible in Texas for this particular case because the alleged victim was born in 1970, which puts him over the legal age limit.

“In a civil case, that is the only way that right from wrong is been done, because of the victim’s age in this case. The ultimate justice is to criminally prosecute Father Katinas. In Texas, you have to be 28 years of age or younger, so criminally, we can’t do that now. We will be asking civil juries for damages to help him with counseling. We would also like the Church to defrock Father Katinas, and hope changes will be made at the level of national organization dealing with these issues – to make them more open in dealing with these issues, so that victims of abuse may come forward and report these matters to civil authorities, and to their local district attorney’s office, which is charged with investigating crime,” she said.

Ms. Merrit told the Herald she is going to file a civil lawsuit against the Father Katinas personally, Holy Trinity parish, the Metropolis of Denver (under which jurisdiction the parish directly belongs) and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

After Rev. Michael Kontogiorgis, assistant chancellor of the Archdiocese, broke the news to the Dallas community this past Wednesday evening, February 21, that Father Katinas had been suspended since last July (just four days after he retired) due to allegations of sexual abuse Dallas which were “corroborated by the accuser’s childhood friends who are now well-respected professionals in other parts of the country,” the Archdiocese issued a statement the following day confirming that Father Katinas “has been suspended from all priestly functions, effective July 5, 2006.”

In the Archdiocese statement, Archbishop Demetrios of America, who had earlier asked the Herald to refrain from publishing the story, conceded the “tragic” nature of the circumstances surrounding the need to suspend Father Katinas.

“This necessary disciplinary action was taken with deep sorrow and pain,” the Archbishop said. “We grieve for those who were affected by the misconduct. We also grieve with Father Katinas and his family, and with those whose lives were positively influenced by his priesthood. We fervently pray for healing for all involved in this tragic situation.”