Archbishop Seraphim Storheim

Aliases:
  • Kenneth William Storheim
Archbishop Seraphim Storheim
Archbishop Seraphim Storheim

Archbishop Seraphim Storheim is an archbishop in the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). He headed the Archdiocese of Canada until his retirement in 2014. Storheim also served for many years as the secretary of the OCA’s synod of bishops.

In September of 2008, following the sudden retirement of Metropolitan Herman Swaiko, Storheim was assigned the responsibility of administering the OCA until such time as a new metropolitan was selected. Storheim was also among the candidates being considered for the position of metropolitan. However, shortly before the election Storheim withdrew his name from consideration. The reason given was his Canadian citizenship.

As reported by Mark Stokoe, on January 30, 2009, Storheim also resigned from his position as secretary of the OCA. He had held this position for 19 years. No reason was given for Storheim’s resignation.

In the spring of 2009, Storheim went to the Monastery of Saint John of San Francisco in Manton, California. Later that spring, an auxilliary bishop was selected for the Archdiocese of Canada.

On October 1, 2010, the Canadian archdiocese announced that Storheim had been given a 3 month leave of absence by the OCA’s synod of bishops. The letter suggested that the leave was for health reasons. Two days later, the OCA followed up with its own announcement, revealing that the archbishop was being investigated by the Canadian police for “misconduct” and that this was why Storheim had been given leave. The OCA further announced that its “Office for Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegations” would “work in conjunction with the Canadian police.”

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, then put out a press release on October 5, 2010, revealing that the police were investigating historical charges of child sexual abuse.

The press release contained 3 documents:

1. Email correspondence between Cappy Larson and Archpriest Alexander Garklavs dated from April 11, 2009 to May 10, 2009. (The entire synod of bishops was copied on this correspondence);

2. A letter purportedly written by Bishop Nikolai Soraich to Metropolitan Jonah Paffhausen dated June 1, 2009; and

3. A letter from Paffhausen to Cappy Larson, dated July 15, 2009.

In the first document Pokrov.org revealed that it had heard from several sources that an Orthodox priest had filed a written complaint with the OCA in the fall of 2008. The complaint (which Pokrov.org did not have) allegedly accused Storheim of historical child sexual abuse. The complaint also alleged that the 2 boys had come forward at the time and received a letter of apology from Storheim and that Syosset should have a record of this. Larson also mentioned that she had heard that Storheim had been sent to the Manton monastery for “evaluation.”

When Garklavs responded he said that the synod was aware of the allegations, but that they had no correspondence from the time in question. He also wrote that there was not enough information to trigger an internal investigation, since the OCA did not know the names of the victims. Garklavs also mentioned that he did not know why Storheim went to Manton.

Larson in turn reminded the OCA chancellor that the purpose of an investigation was to gather information. She added that the OCA certainly had the ability to at least question Storheim about the allegations.

The second document was sent to the post office box of Pokrov.org. It reiterated some of the same allegations contained in Larson’s correspondence with Garklavs. However, the letter also said that the allegations were the reason why Storheim had withdrawn his name from consideration for metropolitan. In addition, the letter mentioned that the abbot of the Manton monastery was “reputed to be a psychotherapist of sorts.”

In the final document Paffhausen assured Larson that the OCA was investigating the allegations against Storheim. The metropolitan wrote that this investigation was proceeding despite the fact that no victim had made a formal accusation.

After the allegations against Storheim became public knowledge, the OCA announced on October 29, 2010, that it was forming a “synodal commission” to investigate the allegations against Storheim.

On November 16, 2010, the Winnipeg police issued an arrest warrant for Storheim for the sexual abuse of two minor boys, twin brothers. He flew to Winnipeg from Edmonton and turned himself into the police on November 24. The archbishop, through his attorney, denied the allegations.

Storheim was questioned by the authorities and then was released after posting a $500 bond and surrendering his passport. The terms of his release also forbade Storheim from having contact with minors.

In 2011, Storheim’s attorney further expanded on the terms of the archbishop’s release. The lawyer said that Storheim was restricted to two addresses, his home in Edmonton and his sister’s house in Ottawa. The attorney added that even to visit his sister, the archbishop must submit the dates of each trip to the court for approval.

At a special meeting on November 30, 2010, the OCA’s synod of bishops suspended Storheim.

In January of 2011 SNAP issued a press release attacking the solicitation of funds for Storheim’s legal defense on church websites. In response, the OCA reiterated that this practice had been prohibited.

SNAP issued a press statement in September of 2011, questioning Storheim’s visit to a parish in British Columbia. The survivors’ support group wondered whether this was a violation of his suspension, or even of his bail. The OCA has, to date, not commented on this situation.

On January 24, 2014, the archbishop was convicted of sexually abusing one of the boys. The judge ruled that there was not enough evidence to convict in the case of the other boy.

A transcript of the judge’s decision is linked above.

On July 9th of the same year, Storheim was sentenced to eight months in jail.

The archbishop appealed his conviction and his sentence. On July 17, 2014, it was decided that Storheim, who had begun his sentence, would be allowed bail pending his appeal.

The appeal was denied on February 5, 2015, and Storheim returned to jail to finish his sentence. He will also have to register as a sex offender for 20 years.

A copy of the court’s decision is linked above.

Work History

5/30/1980-1/31/1981: Supply priest in Valamo Monastery, Finland

1/1981-10/1982: Missionary priest, Alberta, Canada

10/1982-12/15/1983: Missionary priest, Charlotte, North Carolina, United States of America

12/15/1983-12/1/1984: Missionary priest in London, Ontario, Canada

12/1/1984-6/13/1987: Rector of Holy Trinity Sobor, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

6/13/1987-6/29/1990: Became bishop of Edmonton, Canada, auxilliary to Metropolitan Theodosius Lazor

10/28/1990- 3/21/2014: Ruling hierarch of the Archdiocese of Canada with his seat in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada