Sex assault trial for senior Canadian archbishop in OCA begins
The trial of Archbishop Kenneth William (Seraphim) Storheim, highest-ranking cleric in the Canadian diocese of the Orthodox Church in America, began in Winnipeg Monday. The archbishop is accused of sexually assaulting two brothers in the mid-eighties.
The first of the brothers, pre-teens when the alleged abuses occurred, took the stand on the first day of the trial and spoke of being an altar boy at the parish Storheim then administered to in the north end of Winnipeg in 1985.
Former altar boy: ”I was disgusted”
The man, now 39, had a room in the same house as Storheim and testified he was hugged at night and subjected to a nude Storheim wandering about the house, inviting him to look at and to touch his penis. He said that he saw Storheim take boys that the church was feeding into his room.
The man, who now experiences problems with his mental health, said he would call his mother back in Ontario crying and asking to go home. His mother didn’t believe there was anything untoward going on, he said, telling the court that his mother thought he was ”lying because I just want to come home and see my friends.”
He said Storheim would put money under his mattress and one night came in and didn’t just hug him but said he wanted to get into the bed and sleep with him. The man said he pushed him off somehow, but could not remember all the details.
“I just started to feel really uncomfortable with what he was doing,” the man testified. ”I was disgusted. I was so young.”
Archbishop sex assault trial: Mother testifies
Also on Monday the mother of the boys testified and told the judge that when her boys told her what had occurred she went to the church and told them but they did nothing. She did not consider going to the police. She said she had trusted the cleric and was shocked to learn he had behaved so dishonorably to her children.
”He was very nice to me, to my children,” she said of Storheim. ”I invited him sometimes for dinner. He blessed my house. He was very, very nice. He talked to the children nicely. I never in a million years thought he could hurt my children. When my children told me what happened, I was stunned. I was shocked. I wanted to die.”
Archbishop on paid suspension
Storheim, 67, pleaded not guilty and while the Orthodox Church in America placed him on suspension he continues to draw his pay and could be reinstated pending the outcome of the trial. He turned himself in to Winnipeg police in 2010 when he heard of the charges against him. The charges surfaced in 2008.
Storheim, who has served parishes all over North America and spends time overseas conducting OCA business, now lives near Ottawa.