Court of Queen’s Bench Judge Finds 67-Year-Old Winnipeg Orthodox Archbishop Guilty of Sexual Assault of Canadian Boy in 1985
By Vittorio Hernandez | January 28, 2014 1:33 PM EST
Another high Canadian church official has fallen. Court of Queen's Bench Justice Christopher Mainella found 67-year-old Winnipeg Archbishop Seraphim Storheim guilty of sexual assault on a boy in 1985. But he was acquitted of a similar accusation filed by the boy's twin brother due to issues such as mental ailment and alcohol addiction which clouded the second complainant's memory and affected the quality of evidence he provided.
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The victim was an altar boy in another parish, while Mr Storheim was parish priest at the Holy Trinity Sobor Orthodox Church on Manitoba Avenue. Mr Storheim befriended the twins' family which resulted in the brothers visiting him separately in the summer of 1985.
The complainants, now 40, recounted that the clergyman paraded around the house unclothed and asked them to touch his penis. Mr Storheim, in his defence, insisted he took a father-type role with the twins, but admitted discussing with the two - who were 11 then - puberty and body development. It included details on ejaculation and pubic hair which Mr Storheim said came up while holding their bible study when the two started asking questions.
He denied touching the twins or exposing himself to them, although he conceded it is possible that the boys could have seen him naked by accident, but he insisted it was never an intentional display.
Mr Storheim told the court, quoted by the Winnipeg Free Press, "I overstepped a sense of compassion ... I felt compassion for this particular family, so I paid more attention to this family trying to support and encourage them."
Mr Storheim, who holds the title of Archbishop of Ottawa and Canada for the Orthodox Church, was suspended from his position in 2011 when charges were filed against him and pending the result of the criminal charge and an internal church probe.
He is scheduled to be sentenced in June but is out on bail.
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