Press Release: New Players, Same Old Abusive Clergy Shuffle

Author:
Date Published: 09/08/2008
Publication: Pokrov

A national support group for survivors of abuse in the Orthodox churches, Pokrov.org, is appalled that the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is fighting to disallow compensation for child sexual misconduct when church leaders have known for decades that the priest in question is an offender and when the clergyman has admitted the abuse. Like many high-profile Catholic abuse cases, the Greek Orthodox leadership transferred the priest despite actual knowledge of offenses, initiating and then maintaining a pattern of fraudulent concealment.

Nicholas Katinas was a Greek Orthodox Priest. He was defrocked on July 10, 2007, for his admitted abuse of a young male parishioner from a previous parish, but only after the Greek community became aware of the problem and demanded action. Katinas is currently being sued by 5 men he abused as boys in Dallas, Texas.

The Greek Church has filed a motion for summary judgment in the lawsuit. They argue that the statute of limitations on the claims has expired. However, in the responses to this motion filed by Dallas attorney Tahira Khan Merritt, many disturbing facts are revealed concerning the archdiocese’s prior knowledge of Katinas’ abusive behavior, and their continued cover-up of new offenses. The motion will be heard on September 15, 2008, in Dallas. Trial is scheduled to begin on September 22.

Orthodox priests are allowed to marry, and Katinas has a wife, children and grandchildren. However, according to information discovered in the lawsuit, Katinas exhibited sexual proclivities involving males that made him unsuitable for the priesthood while still in seminary. Despite these early red flags, Katinas was ordained. As pastor of Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Olympia Fields, Illinois (1969-1978), Katinas abused at least three boys. When his behavior in Illinois ignited a local scandal, the offenses were not reported to the authorities for prosecution. Instead, the archdiocese reassigned Katinas to Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Dallas, Texas, where he continued to prey on young boys, and the Church continued to cover-up the abuse (1978-2006).

This pattern of fraudulent concealment of sexual misconduct is not limited to the Katinas case. Similar negligence can be found in the cases of John Liadis, Angelo Kasemeotes, Stanley Adamakis, Emmanuel Koveos, Pangratios Vrionis, and Gabriel Barrow. Moreover, there are three additional lawsuits pending against the Greek Church in Jacksonville, Florida (Nicholas Graff), Tucson, Arizona (Anthony Moschonas), and San Francisco, California (Michael Rymer). Information on those cases can be found by searching for each name on Pokrov.org.

Melanie Sakoda of Pokrov.org says, “While the Catholic Church is being forced, slowly but surely, to come to grips with clergy sexual misconduct, the Orthodox churches still view themselves as above the law. Their arrogance creates a dangerous milieu for children as well as vulnerable adults.” Cappy Larson, also of Pokrov.org, added, “The Greek Archdiocese is sending a message to survivors that if they come looking for justice, they can expect vigorous opposition.”

SNAP (Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests) is planning a media event in Chicago on Tuesday, September 9, 2008, at 1 PM, Chicago time, to announce new developments in the Katinas scandal. Contact David Clohessey of SNAP for more details. Phone: (314) 566-9790 Email: SNAPClohessy@aol.com

The Pokrov leaders urge anyone who witnessed or experienced abuse by the former Greek Orthodox priest, Nicholas Katinas, to come forward. Reports can be made to Pokrov at 415-820-9645, or by sending an email to melanie@pokrov.org or cappy@pokrov.org.

Pokrov was founded in 1999 by three Orthodox women who wanted to see the problem of sexual abuse in Orthodox churches addressed. Pokrov is the Russian word for protection. There are a dozen or more Orthodox jurisdictions in the U.S.

Copies of two responses from Ms. Merritt to the Church’s motion for summary judgment are linked above. For a quick tutorial on the issues, read pages 10-20 of the responses.