Parishioners Say Their Priest Cruised Truck Stops for Sex
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – The priest of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church here who resigned abruptly after 29 years of service for “personal and health reasons” was caught by many of his parishioners soliciting truck drivers for sex at rest areas of an interstate highway, they have alleged. Father Demetrios Recachinas announced his departure in March but refused to provide details, nor did the Archdiocese or Parish Council President George Mourizakis. But the parishioners who charged Recachinas with what they called inappropriate conduct unbecoming a priest told The National Herald that many of them had seen him in the rest stop areas of I-95 seeking truck drivers and other men for sexual purposes. They did not want their names (TNH has their names on file) used but one said, “I have seen him in the car doing the act with men…” and another said the priest unwittingly tried to solicit him before realizing who he was. They said they hired a lawyer, Harold Pickerstein, who employed private investigators to follow Recachinas and that they had confirmed he was cruising the area for sex contacts. Pickerstein sent a letter to Fr. Recachinas on February 22 stating that, “Not only have our clients observed these activities, but investigators, retained by this office, have independently verified your activities.” The lawyer gave him one week to resign. On March 6, Fr. Recachinas, at the end of the Liturgy announced suddenly his resignation for “reasons of health.” He is considered one of the most prominent and successful priests of the Archdiocese. He did not return telephone calls from The National Herald, nor did Pickerstein. Archbishop Demetrios was left a telephone message with one of his secretaries and sent a written message but he did not respond either. Mourizakis initially granted an interview discussing the situation but quickly changed his mind and said not to publish it. Bishop Andonios of Fassiane, Chancellor of the Archdiocese in an interview with TNH said that “Fr. Recachinas submitted his resignation for personal reasons and we have him for observation.” Asked to explain the lawyer’s letter, Bishop Andonios said that, “even Fr. Recachinas cannot explain it.”
A representative group of The Holy Trinity parishioners assured TNH that they have undeniable evidence for everything they allege and that, “They can place their hand on the Bible” to swear the charges are true. One of them said Recachinas’ activities were first noticed by a member of their group and that he “saw the priest in the parking fishing truck drivers for sexual purposes. The parishioner called the rest of us, many of us went there and we saw him (the priest) as well. This was taking place on a daily basis, he was going there looking for men to do sexual acts on passing drivers.” Another added that when he was there, “I saw the priest laid down in his car … inviting me to do sexual acts and I left.” He said he was startled to see his parish priest in such a position. “Of course he recognized me, he started reversing his car. I froze when I saw my priest to do that gesture. He left, he went across he sat under a tree looking for someone else since I did not consent.” He said he did not confront him about it at the time, however.
A SHOCKING SCENE
He alleged that Fr. Recachinas had afterwards been observed by at least 50 other parishioners continuing his activities in the rest areas but that none of them challenged him either. But he said he was upset to observe his parish priest there and that he felt, “That the priest betrayed my Faith and me as a parishioner for 30 years. I was shocked, my feet were shaking all day.” He said this happened in April of 2009 and that, “I also saw the priest go around in the toilets and to look at the men … I have seen him in the car doing the act with men.” He explained that, “I was coming up from Stamford and I stopped at the rest area in Fairfield. I was in a van and the priest came looking but I had laid down. He left and at a small distance he picked up a young man. They went down to the parking lot and the priest … was doing the sexual act on him. I was looking at them and I called every one of our group parishioners and I told them that at this very moment the priest is doing the sexual act. It was on a Sunday at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.”
The first parishioner said, “Twelve years ago my best man whose brother was gay told me that your priest is a bad boy. I asked him what do you mean? He said he is a bad boy, he is gay. I asked him, are you joking? He had seen him in the parking lot in Fairfield near the main offices of the General electric at 9 o’clock at night to get into a car and to … I asked my best man (koumbaro) can you take an oath, and he said any time.”
A third parishioner said he had also seen the priest in the rest stop areas “many times in Fairfield because the nature of my job is such that I go by twice a day 365 days a year. The first time that I saw him, I lost my mind, I was shocked. He was very aggressive, especially with the vans and pick up trucks of the painters and plumbers. He was approaching anyone who stopped, open the window and talked … one day he approached me but I went into reverse and I left because I did not want him to see me. Another parishioner, a woman, said she also saw him in those areas “at least one hundred times.” She added that, “Initially I blamed the one who told me about it because I couldn’t believe it until I went there myself and I saw him, and after that I was going there everyday. For at least two weeks I was in shock. He was going from car to car trying to approach any one, complete strangers. He was going constantly
back and forth … I saw him three times (go) to trucks parking. Once he picked up someone who saw that we were watching them and they left and went to another parking lot of another McDonald’s and then we lost them.”
She said her job took her to the area to change employee shifts. “I happened to be there 10 o’clock in the morning, 2 o’-clock in the afternoon, 6 o’clock in the evening every day from Monday to Sunday.” She said she couldn’t get over what she saw and felt “crazy” and “shocked.” She added that, “I couldn’t believe that the priest whom I loved, who was visiting my family, I was telling him everything, who had baptized my children who are the same age as his, I lost my faith, I did not want to go to church, I hadn’t slept for two weeks.” She, too, said she didn’t confront him, because she felt ashamed.
The first parishioner added that president Mourizakis and the Parish Council Vice President were told. “We had a meeting and we spoke with the President and Vice President for about an hour and we explained to them what we saw, what we know, we showed them the lawyer’s letter which was sent to the priest. At the end I asked them, ‘What you would do if you were in my position,’ and they answered that ‘We would have done the same thing.’ I asked them, ‘Why you don’t write a letter to tell the truth to the parishioners?’ They took the letter and they did not even say it to the parish council. The only ones who know are those two, the President and the Vice President, the parish council was never informed.”
BLAMING THE MESSENGERS
He said that the parishioners who took action against Fr. Recachinas were blamed for stirring up trouble instead and that other members of the church said, “that we are malingers, bad people who want to do harm to the priest. The priest was often in our homes, among our families; he baptized and married our children; I have had many sleepless nights, I couldn’t believe it.” He said the group decided to go public “Because our parish has been divided. The Parish Council and the Archdiocese have divided our parish for not taking the initiative to inform the faithful of the truth, and because (they) are hiding the truth we arrived at the point of going public.” He said they would stand behind their story “One million percent … yeah, we are very sure.” He said the allegers had nothing personal against Recachinas. “I repeat that the priest was in our homes and the entire world knows that we were helping the church, the priest and generally the community.” He said they decided to retain a lawyer because, “At some point we felt that we had to direct our concerns somewhere. We went to the lawyer and we told him the whole story. He sent a letter only to the priest because we wanted to protect his family. We believed that he would get up and leave and go to Florida or to California.” He said that Pickerstein talked to the Archdiocese’s legal advisor and was told the Archdiocese told Fr. Recachinas to resign. The parishioner said he recently met Fr. Recachinas in a store “and I told him, ‘Father you are the only one who can salvage the situation since the Parish Council is not doing anything.’ He was crying, I felt pity for him. He told me that he was going to write something and he was going to call me, but he did not do anything.”
PRAISING THE PRIEST
On March 6, the parishioner said, Fr. Recachinas “got up in the pulpit and he said that a year ago he diagnosed with prostate cancer and had a small operation. He said that he resigns from our church and that another priest will be assigned and urged us to embrace the new priest as we embraced him and that he was going to go for therapy. He said these things publicly in a church filled to capacity.
Many were crying, nobody knew what had happened. He did not say that ‘I will leave temporarily,’ but he said ‘I resign.” On Palm Sunday, Bishop Andonios visited the parish and the parishioner said, “He got up in the pulpit and said ‘Go away from those people who are defaming your priest because they spread hatred in the church.’ He praised the priest, that he was the best presbyter.” He added that we’re trying to keep the story from the youth. “If my daughter learns these things it is possible that she wouldn’t want to go to church anymore. This thing created many problems to me, I couldn’t sleep. I was up at 3 o’clock in the morning and I was thinking when he was doing the sacraments, when he was at my house and his mind was somewhere else.”
He said no one suspected anything because Fr. Recachinas is married with three children. “It was difficult to think that he was doing these things.” He repeated that he would swear what he is alleging is true and would place his hand on 10 Bibles to prove it. He said the group has waited so long because, “Even now that we have done all these processes (they) do not believe us. Imagine going and telling him, ‘Father what are you doing?’ He would tell us that we are saying stupidities.” He also said the group has what he called undeniable proof in the form of the investigator’s report that he was willing to provide to TNH. Even if Fr. Recachinas takes legal action against them, he said they will not back down.
“The matter is simple; we want calmness in our church. The Archdiocese and the Parish Council should go public and say the truth. We will go to the American Press as well.” The woman parishioner said she doesn’t go to the church often any more “Because of what I saw my faith has been shaken; I saw him doing the act.”
The first parishioner said Fr. Recachinas “was an exceptional priest; he did his job correctly. We believe that he was one of the best and most successful priests. But when we saw the things that we described to you we were scandalized because they cannot be combined with the priesthood.” The second parishioner said he believed that “the Archdiocese and Parish Council leaders are trying to cover up the truth.” The woman said: “They have paralyzed our church; we are parishioners for 30 and 40 years.
February 22, 2011
Dear Father Recachinas,
We have been retained by members of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, who are concerned that certain of your activities demonstrate bad judgment, are inconsistent with the teachings of the Church and will, if not stopped immediately, serve to bring scandal and disrepute to the Church. Specifically, we and our clients have become aware that you, on a regular basis over a number of years, have spent several hours each day at the rest stop on route I-95 Northbound in Fairfield, the rest stop on route I-95 Southbound in Fairfield, the commuter parking lot on Mill Plain Road in Fairfield, the rest stop on route I-95 in Darien and the GE commuter parking lot in Fairfield (off exit 46.) Not only have our clients observed these activities, but investigators, retained by this office, have independently verified your activities. Your activities must stop immediately. By your irresponsible conduct, you have lost respect of members of your Congregation and your activities threaten to bring embarrassing scandal to Holy Trinity. Your actions have endangered the well being of your entire Congregation and your conduct is contrary to the moral teachings of your faith.
Accordingly, and on behalf of our clients, we hereby insist that you resign your position as Proptopresbyter of The Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, immediately, as well as seek spiritual counseling. Should you fail to respond within seven (7) days from the date of receipt of this letter, we have been instructed by our clients to immediately bring this matter to the Archdiocese and seek appropriate canonical and civil remedies. We hope to resolve this matter discretely as we feel that public process could bring unneeded media attention and damage the reputation of The Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church and its members in the community.
Harold James Pickerstein
Bishop Andonios Interview
TNH: What has happened with Fr. Demetrios Recachinas?
Andonios: He submitted his resignation for personal reasons, that is it and we have him for evaluation.
TNH: For evaluation for what?
Andonios: To see what is going on with him.
TNH: Why he has requested to resign?
Andonios: For personal reasons.
TNH: Did he tell what are those personal reasons?
Andonios: I am not going to tell you anything more. The only thing I tell is that he has not done anything illegal.
TNH: Has he done anything unethical?
Andonios: Not necessarily.
TNH: How do you explain the letter sent to him by attorney Harold Pickerstein?
Andonios: He can’t even explain it. Do you have a copy of the letter?
TNH: Who cannot explain it?
Andonios: Fr. Rechachinas.
TNH: Did he retain an attorney to reply to these accusations?
TNH: Why not?
Andonios: The issue is very sensitive. You should show understanding. I do not want to put his family in a difficult position.
TNH: Have you informed Archbishop Demetrios about the situation?
Andonios: I informed him that Fr. Rechachinas has submitted his letter of resignation from the parish.
TNH: Did you talk to Fr. Recachinas?
Andonios: I have met with Fr. Recachinas.
TNH: Did the Archbishop talk to him?
Andonios: That I do not know.
TNH: Where does the Archdiocese stand on the issue?
Andonios: The Archdiocese is investigating the matter and it is doing what it needs to do to see what we can to make sure that nothing has been done that has harmed anybody and that if the priest needs any help, to see what kind of help he needs. Nobody has been hurt in this situation.
TNH: The letter by the attorney…
Andonios: That is it. That is the end of it, I am not going to tell you anything else. He has not molested anybody, he hasn’t’ done anything like that, so we are looking to see what we need to do.