OCA officials concerned about Alaska diocese

Author: Ralph Gibbs
Date Published: 02/11/2008

A leading official with Orthodox Church in America said Friday that church officials are concerned about the Diocese of Alaska run by Bishop Nikolai, but stopped short of making any official comment about a recent complaint filed with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the tonsure of a registered sex offender.

“It would be inappropriate for me to comment during an ongoing investigation,” Archbishop Alexander Garklavs, a chancellor on the Metropolitan Council said. “We are concerned.”

On Feb. 6, Paul Sidebottom, a former missionary with the church, filed a complaint with EEOC alleging sexual harassment and retaliatory discharge, stemming from an incident in Kodiak in May 2007.

Based on a letter Sidebottom wrote to Metropolitan Herman in Syosset, N.Y., the leader of the Orthodox Church in America began an investigation into misconduct within the Alaska Diocese centered on allegations that a drunken Archimandrite Isidore, the Alaska Diocese’s second leading bishop, allegedly sexually assaulted Sidebottom and that Nikolai subsequently attempted to cover it.

“In the car ride over (from the airport) and back, Fr. Isidore was in tears,” Sidebottom wrote in a letter to Herman describing the alleged sexual assault. “He asked how he had come to his current condition. He said he had once been normal. He loved God. He loved his neighbor. All the while, he was reaching back to touch my leg in an inappropriate way and trying to hug me.”

Sidebottom said it wasn’t the last time that night Isidore tried to fondle him.

“I was in his bedroom alone with him,” Sidebottom wrote. “Then he tried to touch me inappropriately, wanting