Parents of Suicide Monk Might Sue Monastery and Archdiocese of America
FLORENCE, AZ – The parents of Scott Nevins, Ashley and Diane, have retained attorney Stephen M. Murphy of San Francisco to represent them in a possible wrongful death lawsuit against the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA), the Metropolis of San Francisco, and Saint Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery.
Just outside of the St. Anthony’s Monastery in Florence, AZ, the 27 year-old novice (monk) Scott Ioannis Nevins took his life with a gun on the dawn of June 11.
Nevins was a novice for six years at St. Anthony, one of the 21 Monasteries established by Elder Ephraim, the former abbot of the Philotheou Monastery on Mount Athos.
Nevins, from Modesto CA, was a convert to Orthodoxy. He had left the Monastery 15 months ago in the middle of the night in February 2011 and went to Oregon and enrolled in college. He returned the Monastery armed with two guns and a knife on June 11.
When he pulled into the Monastery parking lot, he was met by a night watchman monk. He drove a short distance away. The watchman drove his car toward the area where Nevins had parked. At some point, Nevins shot himself according to police accounts, and was flown by a helicopter to an area hospital, where he died.
The Monastery belongs ecclesiastically and canonically to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America through the Metropolis of San Francisco under Metropolitan Gerasimos. TNH was unable to reach Archbishop Demetrios of America, Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco, Archimandrite Ephraim and Archimandrite Paisios the Abbot of the Monastery.
In a demand letter sent to Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis, Metropolitan Gerasimos Michaleas, and Archimandrites Ephraim and Paisios by Federal Express on February 5, 2013, attorney Stephen Murphy detailed the Nevins’ allegations.
Murphy wrote ”The death of the Nevins’ only son can be directly attributed to the more than six years of horrific physical and psychological abuse he endured at St. Anthony’s. The methodology used by the monastery’s leadership, Archimandrites Ephraim and Paisios, fits every criterion used by the mental health community to identify a group which engages in the destructive practice of thought reform…. Scott sustained severe emotional trauma as a direct result of the Archimandrites Ephraim and Paisio’s (sic) coercive tactics and practices, and the harm continued to affect Scott Nevins after he fled from St. Anthony’s Monastery in February of 2011. Scott Nevins’ death could have been prevented had either Metropolitan Gerasimos or Archbishop Demetrios responded to the Nevins’ pleas to remove Scott from the monastery and provide him with the help necessary to recover from the destructive practices he encountered at St. Anthony’s.”
Murphy also informed the recipients of the letter that the Nevins’ purpose in filing suit is to protect other families and individuals from experiencing what they and their son did. The attorney notes that in accordance with the Nevins’ aims, ”every aspect of this lawsuit, including this demand letter and its enclosures, will be made public.”
Included with the demand letter was a ”Statement of Facts” which outlines Murphy’s investigation into Scott’s involvement with the Saint Anthony’s, as well as the steps the family took to bring his plight to the attention of those in authority over the monastery. In addition, the attorney enclosed his evaluation of the monastery’s regular practices under the eight criteria for a group which engages in destructive thought reform.
Murphy has given to the recipients of the demand letter seven days to respond and if they so wish to institute settlement negotiations. If they do not respond within seven days, the issue will go into litigation.
Attorney Murphy stated in his demand letter that ”while no award can truly compensate Ashley and Dianne Nevins for their son’s loss by the outrageous contact of all those involved, the unheeded Nevins warnings, denial of the Nevins’ concerns, the traumas Scott Nevins suffered, his wrongful death, and other yet to be made public facts, will certainly justify substantial compensatory damages. In addition, this case calls for the imposition of punitive damages, in addition to compensatory damages.”
The authorities have not established a motive why Nevins took his life or why he returned to the Monastery armed with two guns and a knife. In e-mails that he exchanged with Abbot Paisios and another monk, Fr. Ilarion, Nevins wrote that he had been threatened by other monks including elder Ephraim whom he described as ”charlatan.” Archimandrite Paisios the Monastery’s Abbot in an interview with TNH in June denied Nevins’ allegations. Paisios said ”all these were in his fantasy” and he added that ”Fr. Ephraim doesn’t threat nor has any intent to threat anybody.” Paisios added that Nevins ”did not have any contact with the Elder who does not speak English and Scott did not speak Greek.”
Channel KVOA-4 of Tucson Arizona aired a story on Sunday night February 10th about the Monastery and the death of Scott Nevins. http://www.kvoa.com/videos/monastery-mystery.
A neoconservative fundamentalist movement has been established in recent years within the Greek-Orthodox Archdiocese of America by both clergy and laity alike who are completely dedicated to elder Ephraim. They are called ”Ephraimites” and they have blind obedience to Fr. Ephraim concerning even the smallest details of their lives.
Followers of Ephraim, some of them very fanatic, exist everywhere he has established Monasteries such as in Chicago, Pittsburgh, New York, and areas of Florida. Load buses depart on Sunday morning from Chicago’s and Pittsburg parishes and go to the Monasteries leaving the churches empty.
St. Anthony’s Monastery was established in 1995 by elder Ephraim. It looks like a desert resort. He has also established another 20 Monasteries bot for men and women in many areas of the United States, though not in Boston. Therefore, lately, Metropolitan Methodios of Boston has been trying to establish a Monastery affiliated with the Simonos Petra Monastery of Mt. Athos in Greece. Methodios is planning to establish the Monastery right at the camp of the Metropolis in Contoocook, NH where children spent camping time at the camp facilities. He had invited Greek-American hieromonack Iakovos (Vasileios) Bakos last year to do a survey and collect info. Bakos is getting ready to come back again in a few weeks to further peruse Methodios’ aim by doing fundraising and finding candidates to become monks.
There is also another Greek-American monk from the Simonos Petra Monastery, Maximos Constas, who for the second year is not in his Monastery but at Holy Cross Theological School in Brookline, MA as a visiting professor.