Orthodox priest guilty of molesting boy
A Russian Orthodox priest has been found guilty of sexually molesting a 14-year-boy he invited to Australia and locked in his Sydney church flat when he had to perform his religious duties.
Stanislav Vakhabov, 35, had denied detaining the boy for his own sexual gratification in 2014, giving him intoxicating substances to make it easier to have unlawful sexual activity, and four counts of indecent assault.
He claimed during a police interview that he arranged for the teenager to stay at the Croydon flat “mainly for kindness and hospitality”.
But a District Court jury on Monday found him guilty of all six charges after less than one day of deliberations.
The jury had heard that Vakhabov, known as Father Christopher, didn’t inform church authorities when he invited the overseas boy to stay with him at his single-bedroom flat on church grounds.
Vakhabov in a recorded interview with police said he’d contacted the teenager earlier that year via a social media website akin to “Russian Facebook”, and also befriended the boy’s mother.
The trio spoke two or three times a week for about a month before the deeply religious mother asked for her child to travel to Sydney and offered to pay the airfare.
“Her son wanted very much to visit Australia … we thought it would be a very good experience for him,” Vakhabov told police through a Russian interpreter.
The boy told the court that during his stay the priest often tried to hug him and also kissed him on the mouth, climbed on top of him, tried to take his shirt off and touched his genitals.
In a recorded interview with police he said he “never really cried before he came to Australia”, but towards the end of his trip he “was always crying and had a breakdown”.