‘Pastor’ Charged With Sex Abuse

Author: Sean Gardiner and Ron Howell
Date Published: 04/19/2002
Pangiotious Vrionis leaves court in Kew Gardens, Queens Thursday night after making bail following his arrest on sexual abuse charges.  He is identified as the Archbishop of Saint Fanourios & Gerasimos Church in Woodside.  (Newsday Photo/Ken Sawchuck)
Pangiotious Vrionis leaves court in Kew Gardens, Queens Thursday night after making bail following his arrest on sexual abuse charges. He is identified as the Archbishop of Saint Fanourios & Gerasimos Church in Woodside. (Newsday Photo/Ken Sawchuck)

A self-appointed Sunnyside pastor who was defrocked by the Greek Orthodox Church in 1970 after being convicted of sodomizing two boys was arrested yesterday and charged
with sexually abusing a Queens boy three years ago.

Pangiotious Vrionis, 58, was charged yesterday with misdemeanor sexual abuse and attempted sexual abuse. He was released last night on $1,500 bail and told to return to
Queens Criminal Court on May 14, said Patrick Clark, a spokesman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Vrionis, who refers to himself as the archbishop of his own independent church called Sts. Fanourios & Gerasimos Greek Orthodox Cathedral, was charged with fondling a 14-year-
old boy on Feb. 1, 1999, at the church. At the time, he was showing the boy a pornographic movie depicting two men having sex, police said.

If convicted, Vrionis faces a maximum of three months in jail.

Relatives of the boy, now 17, said the incident occurred while the youth was taking Greek lessons from Vrionis. The boy later mentioned the incident to his father, who went to the
youth’s school to seek advice on what to do.

The boy’s stepmother said the family decided that it was in the best interest of the boy and his family not to file a criminal complaint.

“You try to protect your child,” said the stepmother. The family lives near the church, which is at 44-02 48th Ave.

But she said the boy’s mother, who also lives near the church, reported the incident to authorities recently after reading a story about Vrionis’ past.

“Even the boy did not want the allegations to become public,” the stepmother said. “The boy said, ‘I don’t like this. I don’t want the story to come out about me. People will talk behind my back.'”

Authorities said Vrionis was defrocked in 1970 by officials of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America after he was convicted of sexually abusing two boys.

Police said that in November 1968, Vrionis, who then was serving at a church in Harrisburg, Pa., performed sex acts with two 14-year-old boys in his home. He pleaded guilty in 1970 to sodomy and corrupting the morals of minors, was fined $250 and placed on 23 months’ probation. That same year, he moved to Sunnyside and started his own church.

Sts. Fanourios & Gerasimos is not recognized by the Greek Orthodox Church, officials said

Several neighbors who attend the church said Vrionis gives Greek lessons to about a dozen children each week at the church and that they had heard of no problems.

“He’s polite,” said Electra Pagoulatos, who said she has known Vrionis since he moved to the neighborhood. “He
comes to my house.”

Isidoris Agas, 43, said his two children have attended the Greek-language classes and go to services at the church on Fridays and Sundays.

“I have heard nothing against him,” Agas said. “Whatever happened, I don’t think it’s true.”