Passias Mistress, Husband, Discuss St. Spyridon Scandal
NEW YORK – Tom Bouzalas, the husband of Rev. George Passias’ mistress, Ethel, with whom Passias conducted an affair and whom he impregnated, all of which resulted in the Archdiocese banning Passias from the priesthood, in an exclusive interview with The National Herald discusses the whole sordid mess, including details of the affair and issues pertaining to the finances of the St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church in the Upper Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights, where Passias served as priest and Ethel Bouzalas, by Passias’ appointment, parish treasurer.
Ethel also revealed her thoughts in an October 8 email to Archdiocesan Chancellor, Bishop Andonios of Phasiane.
Bouzalas told TNH he was the one who notified the Archdiocese, specifically, Bishop Andonios of Phasiane, about the affair, and requested Passias’ removal from the priesthood.
“My wife and I have been estranged for the past 17 years,” he said, also indicating that via email, he received extremely graphic photographs and videos of Passias and Bouzalas together.
His comments to TNH follow:
“Up until now I have stayed quiet. I’ve received, read, heard, and seen so much in the past two weeks, and further back, even.
“You want to know what really happened? Well here are the facts:
“I emailed Bishop Andonios and informed him of the affair between Fr. Passias and my wife, and that I wanted Fr. Passias removed from the priesthood.
I received extremely graphic photographs and videos, and even though I haven’t read everything that’s been printed about Passias, he has a serious problem, beyond just a cake or foot fetish.”
Bouzalas described how Passias would fly up from Fort Myers, FL “just to say hello and see my wife,” and how he “sat outside my home for hours waiting for my wife to get home.”
Passias would speak badly of his own wife to him, Bouzalas said, “what a terrible wife and disciplinarian she is, where even his youngest daughter had to lock herself in the bathroom until Father George would get home.
Passias would “text my wife at all hours of the night,” Bouzalas added, and during vacation, would spend late hours with her, would pick her up and drive her to work everyday, and “bruised and manhandled her.”
Nonetheless, Passias was in denial. “I never wanted to believe what was taking place. I believed my wife was safe; I was wrong.
“Since my wife and I have been estranged for the past 17 years, to use the word ‘cheating’ to describe the affair would be inaccurate,” he says. “But what people saw on that videotape is not representative of her, but rather of Fr. George’s obsession with her.
“He would call her a Peruvian Princess and Empress, right in front of me. Well, Ethel is neither of those things, but she is a beautiful Peruvian woman whom any man would be lucky to have. She is passionate, warm, gentle, understanding, but despite her beauty, is extremely insecure.
“Father is an older man who knew better, but nonetheless was undeterred in his pursuit of my wife. He wanted to baptize her, and wanted her to become Principal of the St. Spyridon School so that there would be a reason for her to work by his side. He wanted her to join the Parish Council. He wanted her to be in a position of prominence. He would always get his way.”
Bouzalas said that his wife, because of her kindness and naiveté, believed in him, and did everything for him.
Bouzalas became sick this summer and was hospitalized since the end of June, and that is particularly when his wife “fell victim to Fr. George and his sickness. He made sure to isolate her and plant seeds in her mind, because he enjoyed controlling her.”
In fact, Bouzalas adds, “Fr. George became crazy with jealousy when my wife was attending to me.” Although they are estranged, the Bouzalases are “best friends,” he says, and “she made sure I received the best care and was attended to by the best doctors.”
IN HER DEFENSE
The press belittles Ethel Bouzalas, her husband says, but he comes to her defense and notes her accomplishments.
Regarding the St. Spyridon School, he describes how before she got there, nine years ago, “the textbooks they had were from 1969.” There was hardly any furniture in the classrooms, and the entire school was a glorified babysitting center.
“Ethel and I were the School’s greatest benefactors,” he says, including $40,000 which he gave up front and expected back at the end of her tenure.
“It was our money,” he says. “We didn’t donate the money to the school and she easily could have walked out with it at any time, and no one would have stopped her. There was nothing devious about any of this – except what Fr. Passias has done.”
Passias is “a coward and a liar, who probably lied to his wife and family about my wife, probably portraying it as if she was the one who came on to him,” Bouzalas says. “He is the consummate deceiver.
“As for me,” Bouzalas concluded, “I am lucky for my wife, even if we were together a short time, and for my three beautiful sons. And Ethel will always be my best friend.”
Ethel, in an October 8 e-mail to Archdiocesan Chancellor Bishop Andonios of Phasiane, thanked him for his kindness and concern, and asked him whether Fr. Passias had done similar things to other women. “I am not going to dare ask if Father George has done something like this before, although it seems as though he has.”
Bouzalas wrote about the St. Spyridon School’s finances, where Passias served as priest and she as the School Principal. In response to an email by Bishop Andonios to her, requesting that she return $30,000 she took from the parish upon leaving, Bouzalas’ response in the email was that she and her husband lent the money to the School.
The entire email follows:
“Good afternoon, your Grace, once again thank you for your kindness and concern.
I have a wonderful little sister who has been a tremendous source of comfort to me. I am not going to dare ask if Father George has done something like this before although it seems as if though he has. Why should I doubt it? I’ve been left to bear the brunt of the scandal while he has safely hidden himself away.
“My sister says that I’ve been used and victimized for my money and that I am probably not the first victim who has fallen. I’m hurt like I’ve never been hurt. I live in my memories and just try to exist each and every day. Emotionally I am in a downward spiral. My eldest son loves Father and now I have to tell him the truth. It is too hard to bear.
“Please do not feel bad about asking me about the monies. They are monies that were never and have never been reported to the General Assembly. That was never a tradition there at St. Spyridon, even before my time.
“I inherited how the School Board ran the finances of the school (During Sophie George’s time). Tuition for St. Spyridon was $300 a month and most single mothers pay from $300 to $320 a month. Today, tuition is $400 a month with about 30 families paying $320 or $350 because of hardship. The School only ever had enough for payroll, which is why they could not afford a principal, and I was appointed. School tuitions were collected and deposited in the bank. It was always reported to the School Board that I was always putting money into the School in the thousands (to be clear, the first two years) hefty amounts of cash were given by [my husband] Tom and were put into the school for books and payroll and the one thing that the General assembly was told was that I was the schools greatest benefactor always bringing in tons of supplies because the children nor the school could afford it.
“After Putting in excess of $300,000 in the School of the Holy Cross in Brooklyn, Tom would not donate to the school of St. Spyridon. Tom felt that my taking over the principalship was enough and always lent money with the understanding that he was not donating, but if others wanted to they could go ahead and do so. He felt that people took his kindness for granted. Tom kept tally. When I had mentioned about the amounts to be recorded at a meeting years ago at the School Board, jokingly, I was told that there was no need to receipt the money and that I wasn’t going anywhere and that my word was good (obviously, that was a different time and a different mindset).
“All of us were friends on the Council and [due to my meticulousness] I think I would make everyone fall asleep by the time I was done with my Treasurer’s Report. I was always scared of making mistakes and if you ask anyone of them they will tell you with all sincerity, I would hope (even though now they must hate me) that I was always scared and very honest when it came to monies.
“About a year and a half ago, I opened an account in TD Bank, it was a money market account. I told Father that I had money in my safe at the school. He advised me to look into a bank that would make money for the $65,000 that I had in my safe. That money has no background, meaning its primary source was me. There are no records of where that money came from because $30,000 from the years 2009 to 2013 belonged to me and the rest of the monies were from selling the candies that I would buy for the School to raise money for payroll. The Council is aware that there are times that cash transactions are made with no recordings. I was under the assumption that Father George told [Parish Council President] Steve Papadatos about the $65,000 in the bank. In any case, a total of $40,000 is an accumulation of what is owed to Tom.
“Tom never gave monies in check form, always in cash, as he deals in real estate and deals with a lot of cash transactions. As I said to Steve earlier, if it would please the Council, I will gladly return the $30,000 that is accounted for and I will ask that the total of what is owed to Tom and I be removed from TD bank, where it should rightfully come from.
“The school has no way to account for those monies other than that Tom allowed for me to keep the money there until such time as I should step down from the School.
“Your Grace, I told Steve earlier that had all gone well this year, I could have easily pocketed my monies and no one have been the wiser. I knew my monies were safe both in the safe and in the bank. I did it to raise my personnel’s morale. They get paid very little and would get excited to see so much money.
“The breakdown is as follows:
2009 $10,000: books and materials and payroll.
2010 $10,000: Books and materials and furniture and payroll.
2011 $5,000: Instructional materials and Payroll.
2012 $5,000: Supplies and Payroll.
2013 $5,000: Supplies and Payroll
2014 $5,000: Supplies and Payroll
“It is not major monies, we are talking about but nonetheless ours. I hope your Grace and The Parish Council will take what I am asking for under consideration. I have been hurt enough, my family has been hurt enough, my brothers and sisters on the Parish Council have been hurt enough. Tom always made me promise that I would not gift his money to the School because he had done enough at Holy Cross. I am including Tom in this email.
“Sincerely, Ethel Bouzalas.”