Sex attack duo promised to end curse

Author: Dylan Welch and Georgina Robinson
Date Published: 09/13/2008

TWO MEN who pretended they were Greek Orthodox spiritual healers have been charged with more than 230 counts of sexual assault against a woman who believed she had been cursed by “black magic”.

Detectives attached to Strike Force Wanda, which has been investigating the allegations of sexual abuse since June, arrested Tony Golossian, 61, and Arthur Psichogios, 38, at their homes in the inner-west yesterday morning.

The arrests relate to the alleged abuse of a woman, now 30, between 2001 and 2005. Police allege Golossian, from Dulwich Hill, and Psichogios, from Enfield, told the woman they could cure her and her family of a black magic curse.

Over the five-year period she attended at least 70 faked prayer sessions at motels and hotels in the Ashfield area, where, police allege, she was blindfolded, possibly drugged and sexually assaulted.

The woman paid between $500 and $1000 a session and by 2005 police believe she had paid more than $70,000 to Golossian and Psichogios.

In Psichogios’s court hearing yesterday afternoon, the magistrate, Jane Mottley, said there was “remarkable, striking” similarities between yesterday’s charges and charges that the men had faced in court in July relating to the abuse of another woman.

Yesterday Golossian was charged on 151 counts of assault including aggravated sexual assault and Psichogios with 79 similar charges.

“There has been allegations that both victims have been extorted for money and at the same time sexually assaulted for the purpose that by going through these acts the spell would be removed,” the Fairfield local area commander, Acting Superintendent Gary Bailey, said. “I have never seen anything as bizarre as this or as callous as this before.

“There are police reports on record indicating that other people have had contact with the same offenders. However they haven’t disclosed all the details of what’s happened,” he said.

Golossian was allegedly the mastermind of the religious scam. Police say he told potential victims that he could speak to angels and remove curses placed upon them and their families by members of the Greek Orthodox community who practised black magic.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia was quick to state the men had nothing to do with their church.

“The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese condemns all forms of black magic that purport to cure spiritual illness, and is always prepared to help and support victims of such conduct whenever and wherever they arise,” it said in a statement.

Both men were taken to Burwood police station, but Golossian complained of chest pains and was taken to hospital, where he remains.

Psichogios, a married father-of-three, faced Burwood Local Court yesterday afternoon. He quickly ducked his head and remained hidden from the public gallery during his bail application.

In opposing bail the police prosecutor, George Lolis, told the court there was a “high level of planning and organisation” in the men’s actions.

“[The victim] over a period of eight days was groomed, with the accused and co-accused preying on her cultural and religious beliefs,” Sergeant Lolis said.

Ms Mottley refused bail. Psichogios will face the same court on October 28.