Winnipeg archbishop guilty of sexually assaulting boy
A Winnipeg archbishop accused of sexual assault against two boys has been found guilty in one case but not the other.
Seraphim Storheim, 67, will be sentenced later in the year. In the meantime, he will be free on bail.
Storeheim had been accused of sexually assaulting two pre-teen brothers in 1985. He was facing two counts — one for each boy.
In reading the verdict on Friday, the judge said he was convinced beyond a reasonable doubt about the assault against one boy but the burden of proof was not met for the second.
Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Christopher Mainella said in his ruling that Storheim was evasive and untrustworthy in his denials on the witness stand.
The judge also said one brother was clear in his testimony, while the other had memory and mental illness problems.
The brothers, who are now in their 30s, testified they lived with Storheim briefly, on separate occasions, when they worked as altar boys in 1985.
Storheim’s lawyer had suggested in closing arguments last fall that the evidence against his client was unreliable.
Jeff Gindin told the judge that the brothers’ testimony just wasn’t enough to convict Storheim beyond a reasonable doubt.
One of the brothers admitted he had large gaps in his memory and couldn’t provide many specifics. He told court he is on several medications and has spent time in a psychiatric hospital.
But Crown attorney Breta Passler told the court Storheim’s version of events didn’t make sense. She argued that the brothers’ testimony, in contrast, was genuine and honest as they tried to recall difficult events which occurred several decades ago.
Disappointed with conviction, pleased with acquittal
Jeff Gindin, Storheim’s lawyer, was not happy with the verdict.
“Disappointed that [the judge] convicted on one of the counts,” he said Friday outside the court. “Pleased that he acquitted on the other. But we were asking for an acquittal on both. So obviously we are very disappointed about that.”
Gindin said his client should not have to spend time behind bars and that he will argue against a jail sentence.
“He has no record. And on a scale of sexual assaults, this would certainly be on a lower level compared to some that you see,” he said. “Thirty years having gone by with no additional charges, and no record, given his age.”
Storheim is now living in Ottawa and is to be sentenced in June.
Gindin said he will speak with his client about filing an appeal.
Walked around naked
During the trial last fall, court was told Storheim met the boys in the early 1980s when he was posted in London, Ont.
When he moved to Winnipeg, Storheim agreed to have the boys stay with him separately during the summer of 1985 to further their Christian education.
During that visit, one brother said Storheim would routinely walk around naked and would sometimes lie on the floor naked and touch himself.
On another occasion, the man testified, Storheim touched him and inspected his groin as he sat naked on a bed.
The man’s brother told court Storheim got into bed with him and asked to be touched sexually.
Storheim denied anything inappropriate took place.
He was arrested in 2010 after the brothers went to police. He became the Orthodox Church in America’s top cleric in Canada in 2007 and is currently on leave.
The Orthodox Church in America has 700 parishes, missions and other institutions across North America. It is separate from other Orthodox churches such as the Greek Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Storheim became the Orthodox Church in America’s top cleric in Canada in 2007 and is currently on leave.
[Above] is a statement released by the Archdiocese of Canada Friday.
with files from The Canadian Press