Trial starts for archbishop charged with Winnipeg sex crimes
WINNIPEG — A man has told a Winnipeg courtroom that when he was an altar boy he was sexually abused by a cleric in the Orthodox Church in America.
The man, whose identity is protected under a publication ban, says Seraphim Storheim exposed himself and asked to be touched sexually.
The man also testified that Storheim, now in his late 60s, got into bed with him on one occasion.
Storheim, who has pleaded not guilty, is accused of repeated sexual assaults on two boys in the mid 1980s.
He later became Canadian archbishop of the church, which is separate from other orthodox churches such as the Greek Orthodox Church and Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
A judge is determining whether the man’s testimony is admissible in the trial, which is being held without a jury.
Storheim’s lawyer has been focusing on gaps in the complainant’s testimony.
Under cross-examination, the man admitted he could not remember how long he had spent as an altar boy, whom he told about the alleged abuse and many other details.
“My mind’s blank right now,” the man said on two occasions. The man also told the court he is on several medications and has spent time in a psychiatric hospital.
But he testified that he has a clear memory of the abuse.
“I just started feeling really uncomfortable … disgusted,” the man said.
“To this day, it really, really bothers me.”
The man testified that he and his brother, who lived in another province, were sent to serve as altar boys with Storheim by their single mother.
The man said he remembers calling his mother and pleading with her to let him come home. His mom refused.
“She thinks I’m lying because I just want to come home and see my friends.”
The Orthodox Church in America has 700 parishes, missions and other institutions across North America.
(The Canadian Press)