Devastating Lawsuit Hits Archdiocese
- Submitted by Melanie Jula Sakoda
Devastating Lawsuit Hits Archdiocese
By Theodore Kalmoukos
Special to The National Herald
(Subscribers to the National Herald can view the complete text here.)
BOSTON, Mass. Two alleged victims of Rev. Nicholas Katinas, the
retired former pastor of the Holy Trinity Church in Dallas who has
been accused of sexual misconduct with minors, has filed a lawsuit.
The 32-page lawsuit was filed in Dallas District Court last Friday,
April 27 (cause #0703807), and is posted in its entirety on the
Orthodox Reform website (orthodoxreform.org). The National Herald
first reported its contents in its Greek-language daily publication
this past Monday, April 30.
The now adult victims, cited as John Doe I and John Doe II, have
filed a combined lawsuit against Father Katinas personally, Holy
Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Dallas, Metropolis of Denver, "by
and through Bishop Isaiah of Denver in his official capacity," and
the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, "by and through Archbishop
Demetrios in his official capacity."
Both victims were members of the Holy Trinity parish community in
Dallas, where Father Katinas served as a priest for 28 years. The
sexual abuse allegedly took place while the plaintiffs filing
through John Doe I's mother "as next friend of John Doe II, a
vulnerable (non compos mentis) adult" were serving as altar boys
under Father Katinas' guidance and supervision in 1981 or 1982, when
Doe I was 11 or 12 years of age, and when Doe II was 13 or 14 years
Tahira Khan Merritt, a well-known attorney specializing in clergy
sexual misconduct cases, filed the lawsuit. She has successfully
represented a number of clergy sexual abuse cases involving Roman
Catholic priests during the recent pedophilia scandal which initially
rocked the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston and spread across the
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs' request that the court grant them
permission for discovery proceedings, and "plead a civil conspiracy
to conceal criminal acts; to conceal the commission of criminal acts;
to conceal negligence by unlawful means; to conceal fraud; to conceal
the breach of the duty of trust and confidence; and to conceal, by
illegal means, the use of deception to avoid claims until limitations
would expire, thus suspending the running of limitations against all
defendants as to all claims (pg. 28)."
According to the lawsuit (pgs. 28 & 29), both victims, "as a result
of the conduct and incidents described herein," seek "actual damages
and punitive damages in excess of the minimum jurisdictional
requirements of the court."
The story of ex abuse allegations against Father Katinas, one of the
most well-known clergyman in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, broke
this past February, when Assistant Archdiocese Chancellor Rev.
Michael Kontogiorgis paid a visit to the Dallas parish and told a
hushed congregation of about 400, "There is no doubt that Father
Nicholas engaged in serious moral transgressions," that he had been
suspended due to accusations of child sex abuse in the "not too
distant past," and that "the statements we heard were corroborated by
the accuser's childhood friends who are now well-respected
professionals in other parts of the country."
"HUNDREDS OF ACTS"
The lawsuit alleges that the "sexual assaults occurred in the church
itself, near the altar and during confession; they happened in the
church office and in the church van, as well. The abominations
described herein involved hundreds of acts of sexual perversion over
approximately three years, usually every Sunday before or after mass
The Archbishop did not return the Herald's telephone call. The Herald
also left messages for Rev. Christopher Constantinides, current
pastor of Holy Trinity (who was also Father Katinas' assistant during
the alleged incidents), at his office, as well as on his cellular
According to the court documents, John Doe I's mother "trusted
Katinas because of his position as pastor, and was led to believe
that he was a good and moral man, a role model for any youngster from
a broken home (pg. 6)," but that Father Katinas began "betraying the
trust of John Doe I and his family sexually molesting him in the
fall of 1983 kissing John Doe I on the mouth and performing other
perverse and criminal sexual acts upon him John Doe I was
traumatized and ashamed by what happened. He believed it was his
fault, and that he was Katinas' sole victim (pg. 6)."
The lawsuit also states that John Doe II was mentally challenged from
birth, "but despite knowing of John Doe II's mental disabilities,
Katinas did take advantage of him sexually. He violated the
exceptional trust and faith that Doe II and his mother had in him,
their revered pastor, and revealed himself to be a hypocritical and
dangerous sexual predator (pg. 7)."
The lawsuit also refers to a third victim in Chicago from the
Assumption Church in Olympia Fields, Illinois (prior to Father
Katinas' transfer to Dallas), although the alleged victim from
Illinois is not party to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that, around 1970-72, "Katinas sexually abused at
least one other minor `DZ,' an altar boy like the plaintiffs herein,
whose family were parishioners of that church. During the abuses,
Defendant Katinas told DZ that he likewise `played around' with other
altar boys (pg. 7) During a telephone conversation with Katinas in
1998, DZ confronted him about having abused him as a boy. Katinas
admitted to the abuse, then asked his victim to pray for him and keep
silent, repeating that he had also sexually abused other boys, and
further that he had confessed his criminal sexual misconduct to
Bishop Gerasimos at Holy Cross and conferred with a psychiatrist in
Chicago, as well, both presumably before he was transferred to
Dallas. Neither Gerasimos nor any other official in the knowing GOAA
hierarchy had bothered to offer counseling to DZ, nor acted to remove
Katinas as pastor of Holy Trinity (pg. 8)."
The lawsuit also alleges a cover-up (pg. 9): "There is no evidence
that law enforcement officials in Illinois or Texas were ever
notified of Katinas sex crimes against children, as required by these
states' reporting laws. Likewise, parishioners in both states have
been kept in the dark as to the truth behind Father Nick's delayed
suspension. Indeed, the Greek Orthodox hierarchy waited almost seven
months after his so-called `retirement' from Holy Trinity to publicly
admit the real reasons behind his suspension. They are less candid
and more than cryptic. Their continuing secretive cover-up of
Katinas' sexual crimes against male children in churches which were
under his dubious care further imperils his victims' lives and
postpones their hopes for justice and closure."
The Herald is not publishing the lawsuit's more graphic descriptions
of the alleged acts.
Father Katinas is the father of five children. One of them, Rev.
James Katinas, is a Greek Orthodox priest currently serving the
Annunciation Church in Kansas City, Missouri. The younger Katinas
also worked at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology as
Director of Admissions, as well as Director of Development. He was
transferred to the Kansas City parish in June 2006, the same month
his father was suspended from the priesthood just days after retiring.
The bishop whom Father Katinas supposedly confessed his sins of
sexual abuse against children was the late Bishop Gerasimos of
Abydos, who spent the last years of his life as a spiritual father on
Holy Cross campus. Gerasimos is buried on the campus grounds behind
the Holy Cross Chapel, along with the late Archbishop Iakovos and
In June 2006, Father Katinas filed his papers for retirement. At the
same time, the Archdiocese Chancery requested his canonical release
from Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver, and he was transferred to the
jurisdiction of the Direct Archdiocesan District in New York, which
is under the pastoral and canonical supervision of Archbishop
Demetrios. The Archdiocese suspended Father Katinas from every
liturgical and pastoral function, but it was not reported in the
Orthodox Observer, the Archdiocese's official publication, for
another five months. It was finally reported in the Observer's
November 2006 issue, after members of the Holy Eparchial Synod
strongly inquired about it during the Eparchial Synod's fall
gathering last October. Meanwhile, the Archbishop has so far refused
to send Father Katinas before the Spiritual Court to defrock him,
despite being exhorted by several members of the Synod to do so.
Father Katinas left for Greece on Monday, February 19, just two days
before Father Kontogiorgis broke the news concerning the whys and
wherefores of the suspension to the Dallas community, in an apparent
attempt to clear up rumors which had been circulating for months, but
which also left the Dallas parish community and many Greek Orthodox
faithful throughout the country reeling.
Father Katinas is currently believed to be staying with relatives on
the island of Rhodes.