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Devastating Lawsuit Hits Archdiocese

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  • Melanie Jula Sakoda
    Submitted by Melanie Jula Sakoda Devastating Lawsuit Hits Archdiocese By Theodore Kalmoukos Special to The National Herald
    Message 1 of 1 , May 4, 2007
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      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
      of age.

      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."


      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
      (pg. 6)."

      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
      voice mail.
      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
      Metropolitan Silas.

      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.
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