Orthodox priest charged with sex crime in Ohio

Author: Peter Smith
Date Published: 06/26/2015
The Rev. James Callozzo
The Rev. James Callozzo

A Pittsburgh-based priest with ties to several Orthodox Christian jurisdictions is on leave from his parish in Youngstown, Ohio, pending resolution of a criminal charge of sexual imposition in that state.

The Rev. James Callozzo, 73, of Brookline, faces a third-degree misdemeanor charge. An 18-year-old man alleged Rev. Callozzo followed him into the bathroom of a suburban Youngstown restaurant May 15, started talking explicitly about the younger man’s private parts and then grabbed them before the man forced him away.

Rev. Callozzo has a pretrial hearing on July 28. He pleaded not guilty Tuesday at his arraignment at Mahoning County Area Court and was released on $2,500 bond.

Rev. Callozzo has been relieved of duties as pastor of Nativity of Christ Orthodox Church while the case is pending, said Archpriest Roman Star, dean of the Central States for the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, part of the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), to which the parish belongs.

Rev. Callozzo himself, however, is under the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA. He transferred there in 2008 from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, according to Stavros Papagermanos, press officer for the latter jurisdiction. He did not have details of Rev. Callozzo’s assignments but said there are no records of prior allegations.

Rev. Callozzo’s name also did not appear in checks of Pennsylvania court records and national sex-offender registries.

Messages left at Mr. Callozzo’s phone number in the Ukrainian church directory were not returned. Ukrainian church officials also did not return messages.

“I’m hoping the churches that have had him at the various parishes are going to reach out to parishioners to make sure no one was hurt, and if anyone was hurt, to help them,” said Melanie Sakoda, the Orthodox director of the advocacy group Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests.

According to past news articles and online references, Rev. Callozzo has also gone by such first names as Dimitri, Andoni and Andonios and has served at Greek Orthodox parishes in Dubuque, Iowa, and Kankakee, Ill.

According to his online biography, the Chicago native was confirmed into Orthodoxy as a teenager, entered a monastery and later married, having three children. He was ordained a priest in 1969 in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (distinct from the Moscow Patriarchate), and later served Greek Orthodox parishes.

After his wife’s death in 2001, Rev. Callozzo underwent a monastic ritual at a Serbian Orthodox monastery in Illinois, and he moved to Pittsburgh in 2009, according to his biography.

The alleged incident occurred at a Perkins Restaurant in Boardman, Ohio. A Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office arrest report said the witness provided a detailed description and a photo his mother took of the suspect at his restaurant booth.

Peter Smith: petersmith@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1416; Twitter @PG_PeterSmith.