Vt. court upholds priest’s conviction

Author: Matt Sutkoski
Date Published: 02/06/1999

Koveos found guilty in 1998 of lewd conduct with child

The Vermont Supreme Court on Friday said a lower court and jury acted properly when it convicted Greek Orthodox priest Emmanuel Koveos of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child.

Koveos was arrested in January 1997 after a girl said the priest fondled her during a Greek class. He was convicted in February 1998 and served four months of a six-month jail term. He is on parole.

Attorneys for Koveos argued the conviction was improper because a juror was not from Chittenden County, the court improperly admitted videotaped evidence and he was improperly denied the right to attend a deposition.

The high court said Koveos could have raised most of his objections much earlier. “Defendant had ample opportunity to determine the facts he now believes are important,” wrote Supreme Court Justice John Dooley in Friday’s decision.

Dooley said none of the incidents Koveos cited in his appeal were improper, so the conviction stands.

Koveos has consistently said he is innocent and was framed. He had said his conviction was because of improper conduct by the judge, jury, defense attorney, police, the victim and her family.

Koveos, a third-generation priest, had earlier served in Lowell and Quincy, Mass.; Concord, N.H.; Texas; and Pennsylvania. He moved to Vermont in January 1993 with his wife, Joanna, and family, to serve in the only Greek Orthodox church in the state.

The incident Jan. 22, 1997, occurred while he was giving Greek lessons at the church. He fondled the girl in the main hall of the church, and later in his private office. The groping was interrupted when the victim’s mother walked in, according to court testimony.

Koveos remains under suspension from the Greek Orthodox Church and is not allowed to perform any of the duties of a priest, said D.M. Moschos, an attorney for the church.

The jury that convicted Koveos was blocked during the trial from hearing of another case in which Koveos allegedly fondled a woman while he served at a Concord, N.H., church in 1988.

Koveos was priest at Dormition of the Mother of God Church in Burlington from 1993 until he was suspended in 1997.

A church panel in New York is considering further punishment against Koveos, Moschos said.