Settlement reached for monk accused of sex abuse

Author: Jim Schultz
Date Published: 10/09/2008

Suit was filed by man claiming ex-priest took advantage of disability

An out-of-court settlement has been reached in a lawsuit filed against a San Francisco Eastern Orthodox church and a defrocked priest accused of sexual abuse who reportedly now lives in a Tehama County monastery.

Terms of the settlement were sealed by the court.

In his 2006 lawsuit, the plaintiff, who was identified as ”John Doe,” alleged that he and the Rev. Michael Rymer, who did not tell him that he had been exposed to the AIDS virus, engaged in a homosexual relationship from 1989 to 2004.

”Doe” said the affair began after church officials with the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco referred him to Rymer, who was living in San Jose, for advice and guidance.

”Doe” claimed that he suffers from a mental disability. He alleged that Rymer used his position of trust and authority and ”Doe’s” mental illness to exploit and sexually abuse him for 14 years.

”But for Rymer’s employment with the church, Rymer would not have been in a position to sexually abuse the plaintiff,” the lawsuit argued.

The lawsuit also alleged that church officials knew about Rymer’s alleged sexual misconduct but ignored it.

Rymer, who was defrocked as a priest in 2006 and who denied ”Doe’s” allegations in a court document filed in 2007, was diagnosed with AIDS in 1990, the lawsuit claims.

Rymer testified that his sexual relationship with the plaintiff was consensual.

It could not be learned whether Rymer continues to reside at the Monastery of St. John of San Francisco in Manton, which is owned by the Orthodox Church in America.

A monastery spokesman said he would not respond to any inquiries about the matter.

In a court document filed last year Rymer gave the Manton monastery’s post office box number as his address.

Melanie Jula Sakoda, co-founder of a San Francisco-based watchdog group, Pokrov, said Wednesday that she believes Rymer has lived at the monastery for at least a year.

Jim Schultz can be reached at 225-8223 or at jschultz@redding.com.