Sidebottom Complaint Settled
Sources close to the case report that late last week the OCA has reached a settlement with Paul Sidebottom, former Acting Dean of Students at St. Herman’s Seminary in Kodiak, Alaska. The settlement came after months of investigation and mediation of Sidebottom’s formal complaint filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in February 2008. The complaint alleged sexual harassment by former Alaskan Chancellor, Archimandrite Isidore (Brittain), and retaliatory discharge by the former OCA Bishop of Alaska, Nikolai (Soraich).
The settlement came as Sidebottom’s deadline for filing a civil lawsuit drew near. According to an earlier statement of one of Sidebottom’s attorneys, James C. Spencer, Sidebottom was always “..hopeful that his complaint would be resolved within the structure of the Orthodox Church in America.” It appears that this was the case. While full details of the settlement are not expected to be officially announced by the OCA until later this week, sources indicate the settlement will include revisions to the OCA’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, new screening requirements for candidates for the priesthood and episcopacy, disciplinary actions and an apology.
Sidebottom’s February 2008 EEOC complaint alleged that Archimandrite Isidore sexually harassed Sidebottom in May 2007. (Read that story here) The EEOC complaint then stated that Bishop Nikolai fired Sidebottom from his job at St. Herman’s Theological Seminary in retaliation for his filing of a sexual harassment complaint with the Orthodox Church in America. (Read that story here) The former Bishop of Alaska, +Nikolai, denied that the harassment incident occurred, rejected Sidebottom’s complaint of retaliatory discharge and then accused other OCA Bishops of interfering in his diocese by discussing these events. (Read that story here). Months of turmoil then began in the Alaskan Diocese, culminating in a growing priests’ rebellion against +Nikolai, his suspension, reinstatement, and ultimate forced retirement in May 2008. Archimandrite Isidore was suspended from the priesthood when he abandoned his post in Anchorage and choose to leave the state with +Nikolai.
Major Figures Now Scattered to the Winds
+Nikolai has since left the country and taken up residence in a Serbian monastery in Australia. (Read that story here.)
After serving in a Greek parish immediately following his completion of a substance abuse rehabilitation program, Archimandrite Isidore sought a more permanent posting in another Greek parish in the Upper Midwest. The attempt failed when the Greek Church authorities determined his true status as a suspended priest.
Retired OCA Metropolitan Herman refused to act on Sidebottom’s original complaint, thus prolonging the crisis. The Metropolitan was forcibly retired in September 2008 following revelation of his misdeeds in the Report of the Special Investigation Committee (SIC). His administration of St. Tikhon’s Monastery is now under investigation as well.
Paul Sidebottom, upon leaving Alaska, returned to his home state of Kansas, where he currently works for a non-profit organization.