Friday, January 24, 2014

Synodal Commission restarts investigation of Bp. Seraphim

(OCA) - The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America has received information regarding Archbishop Seraphim (Storheim), who is on suspension from his position as Archbishop of Canada.

In court proceedings that took place earlier today—Friday, January 24, 2014—in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Archbishop Seraphim was found guilty of one count of sexual assault. He also was acquitted of one count of sexual assault. Sentencing will take place later this year. He remains free on bail.

Separately and apart from the court proceedings, Archbishop Seraphim remains suspended, pending completion of reports from a Synodal Commission that was appointed to review the charges from an internal Church perspective.

While this is a sad and stressful matter for all involved, the legal process had to take its course before any administrative action could proceed. While taking an active interest in the criminal proceedings, the OCA is not a party to the criminal action.

The Lesser Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, meeting at the OCA Chancery in Oyster Bay Cove, NY, September 21 - 24, 2010, heard an official report that police in Canada had received a complaint alleging misconduct committed by His Eminence, Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada some 30 years prior. He was placed on leave of absence by the Holy Synod of Bishops effective October 1, 2010.

On October 13, 2010, the Holy Synod appointed a Synodal Commission to conduct an internal investigation into the allegations. The members of the Synodal Commission were announced on October 29, 2010.

On November 25, 2010, Archbishop Seraphim turned himself in to police authorities in Winnipeg, Manitoba. After posting bail he was released, pending trial. On November 30, 2010, the Holy Synod of Bishops changed his status to ‘suspended’ and he remains in that status.

The Synodal Commission has been in communication with civil authorities and has held its investigation in abeyance so as not to interfere with or compromise the judicial process. Now that criminal court judgement has been announced, the Synodal Commission will resume its work and issue a report to the Holy Synod in accordance with the sexual misconduct Policies, Standards and Procedures of the OCA.

The Synodal Commission is under the guiding authority of His Grace, Bishop Melchisedek, Bishop of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, along with His Grace, Bishop Mark, Bishop of Baltimore. Current members are Protopresbyter Mirone Klish, Dr. Lila Amirali, Dr. Thomas Kolivakis, Archpriest Andrew Jarmus. Mr. Robert Koory serves as a consultant on behalf of the Sexual Misconduct Policy Advisory Committee (SMPAC).

The faithful of the Orthodox Church in America are asked to offer prayers for the accusers, for Archbishop Seraphim, for the civil authorities, the Synodal Commission, and for their brothers and sisters in Christ in the Archdiocese of Canada.


  1. The judge’s reasoning process is impaired. Guilty without any evidence abrogates the essential common law necessity of innocent until PROVEN guilty. Secondly how can he argue that he was a child molester with one boy but not interested in the other – that is faulty reasoning and shows a misunderstanding of child predators. Third, the judge says the accused puts up certain "concepts" in his responses and he doesn't like that; what in the sam heck does Seraphim's grammar and scholarship have to do with his guilt or innocence?

    And then other witnesses said he pastored with an open door to other parishioners who might enter at any time. and the judge heard of a whole body of parishioners of many parishes of his being a saintly man. always meek and gentile in all respects and always has been. this makes me highly suspicious of this judge and who appointed him – the ndp? happy life and times in ndp and liberal manitoba. i doubt a jury would have convicted him. also, the accusers were egged on by a wayfaring anti-priest organization from another country, all the while we know that putin wants to see the end of the OCA Orthodox. this smells like bad justice to me, and i’m the descendent of the chief justice of england, sir matthew hale. yes, something is rotten on the manitoba bench. post thought: sounds also like an absolutely incompetent defence lawyer: the first rule of defence trials is You NEVER put the accused on the witness stand. By doing so, the prosecutor can then by subtle legalize and cross-examination, trip up the accused and make him look more guilty (ie to the judge) than he actually was.

  2. He is still in the news:
    Victims group pushes support for archbishop off Web Add to ...
    VANCOUVER — From Thursday's Globe and Mail Published Wednesday, Jan. 05 2011, 9:00 PM EST
    A U.S.-based victims group has successfully appealed to Canadian religious leaders to stop a Vancouver parish from soliciting support for an archbishop in Canada charged with sexual assault.
    However, a move to close down the parish's Web-based fundraising campaign was not enough, Cappy Larson, a spokesperson for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Wednesday in an interview from San Francisco.
    The leadership of the Orthodox Church in America's Canadian archdiocese should take the next step and make a genuine effort to reach out to victims, said Ms. Larson, whose group claims more than 10,000 members, including hundreds in Canada. "They are just trying to protect themselves. They knew the parish could be a problem for them."
    Archbishop Seraphim Storheim, who was previously known as Kenneth William Storheim, was arrested on Nov. 24 in Winnipeg and charged with two counts of sexual assault. Media reports have stated the abuse allegedly occurred in the mid-1980s at a Winnipeg church and involved two 10-year-old boys.
    Archbishop Storheim took a leave of absence from his post in October, when the police investigation became known. The Orthodox Church in America suspended him in early December, a week after he was arrested.
    The victims group was concerned about the website of the Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Sobor in Vancouver. The website included a letter of support for Archbishop Storheim, a page soliciting funds for his legal defence and a link labeled "important" which led to a private website supporting the archbishop and soliciting funds.
    By late Wednesday afternoon, the contentious material had disappeared. The parish, though, did not erase all signs of its support for Archbishop Storheim.
    "During an after the service on Oct. 10, 2010, the whole parish prayed for our beloved Vladyka Seraphim," the revamped website stated, referring to Archbishop Storheim. A letter of support was prepared at the church council meeting, on behalf of the parish, the website stated.
    "On Jan. 5 at the request of the Archdiocesan leadership, the letter with the unanimous opinion of our community has been claimed as illegal and was removed from this page," the website stated.
    Answering the phone at the parish on Wednesday, the day before Orthodox Christmas Eve, a woman who declined to identify herself, said no one was available for an interview about the website. A man who answered the phone at the archdiocese office in Ottawa, who also did not identify himself, said church officials would not be available for an interview until next week.
    Ms. Larson said the outpouring of public support by the Vancouver parish was "damaging and hurtful" to victims. "It is just total intimidation, for the victims to see [the parish]rally support around the [alleged]predator," Ms. Larson said.
    She said she has not seen anyone in the Canadian church reach out to those who may have information or been victimized. The victims should be told that it is okay to come forward and they should speak to police, she said.
    The victims group was not critical of anyone who wants to personally support the archbishop, Ms. Larson said: "Give him a phone call, write him a note. But to [solicit support on a parish website]is really inappropriate."
    The religious leader, who lives in Ottawa, was appointed archbishop of Ottawa and spiritual head of the Archdiocese of Canada in March, 2007. Initially a Lutheran, he converted to Orthodoxy in the 1970s and has served as an Orthodox priest in Finland, North Carolina, Alberta, Ontario and Manitoba. The Orthodox Church in America is reported to have more than one million members.