Dallas Church Responds to Lawsuit
- Submitted by Melanie Jula Sakoda
(The complete online text of the article is available only to
Dallas Church Responds to Lawsuit
By Theodore Kalmoukos
Special to The National Herald
BOSTON, Mass. Holy Trinity Church in Dallas, which is at the center
of the pedophile scandal allegedly involving Rev. Nicholas Katinas,
its former pastor of 28 years, has replied to the lawsuit launched by
two of his alleged victims against the parish; the Greek Orthodox
Metropolis of Denver and Metropolitan Isaiah; the Greek Orthodox
Archdiocese of America and Archbishop Demetrios; and Father Katinas
The parish, through its attorneys Douglas D. Fletcher and Richard G.
Miller, has stated that "Defendant (Holy Trinity Church) denies each
and every, and all singular, material allegations contained within
Plaintiffs' pleadings and demand strict proof thereof."
Holy Trinity's reply also states that "Defendant hereby, in
accordance with Rule 216 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure,
demands a trial by jury. Simultaneously with the filing of this
demand, a jury fee is being paid on behalf of this Defendant."
The Dallas parish community's reply was filed this past May 22.
It was not yet determined at press time whether the rest of the
defendants had also filed similar replies.
The National Herald left phone messages this past Monday, May 28 with
the Law Offices of Mr. Fletcher, as well as with Holy Trinity Church
and its current pastor, Rev. Christopher Constantinides, but those
calls had not yet been returned by the time this edition of the
Herald had goner to press.
Legal experts told the Herald that Holy Trinity's reply is a standard
legal procedure in order for the Plaintiffs to secure their options
for a civil trial or out-of-court settlement in a timely manner, but
that the reply is not binding.
The allegations against Father Katinas, who has been accused of
sexual misconduct with minors, and who was considered one of the most
prominent priests of the Archdiocese, have shaken the Church and the
Greek American community, and remain the talk of the town. Priests
and laity throughout the Archdiocese and its parish communities are
up in arms about it.
The Archbishop's attempts to shirk responsibility arguing that this
incident did not take place during his archiepiscopal tenure have
left many members of the Church in America feeling disillusioned,
indignant and confused.
The Archbishop has not conceded his failure to resolve the matter
properly (by convening a spiritual court to defrock Father Katinas)
when the problem manifested itself, as was the case with similar
incidents of clergy sexual misconduct against children.
The story of sex abuse allegations against Father Katinas first 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 Herald has learned that the Ecumenical Patriarchate in
Constantinople is very concerned about the Katinas case, and that
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has requested a detailed report from
According to Michael Jaharis, vice chairman of the Archdiocesan
Council, the Archdiocese has spent close to $10 million in out of
court settlements for cases of sexual misconduct and associated legal
fees (see March 10, 2007 edition, page 1).
In the 32-page lawsuit filed in Dallas District Court this past April
27 (cause #0703807), the now adult victims, cited as John Doe I and
John Doe II, both members of Holy Trinity Church in Dallas, allege
that the sexual abuse took place 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 Dallas attorney specializing in
cases of clergy sexual misconduct, filed the lawsuit. She has
successfully represented victims in a number of clergy sexual abuse
cases involving priests during the recent pedophilia scandal, which
rocked the Roman Catholic Church in America.
The lawsuit alleges that the parish, the Metropolis of Denver and the
Archdiocese knew about Father Katinas' alleged proclivities,
characterizing his alleged depravity in very strong terms (pg.
10): "Defendants Holy Trinity, Denver Metropolis and GOAA were aware
or should have been aware that, given the opportunity and protection,
Katinas would sexually molest minor males, including adolescent boys
such as Plaintiffs (The same defendants) knew of the dangerous
sexual propensities of Katinas and the sexual risk he presented to
minor boys, yet for almost three decades, they cloaked him with
authority and reverence as pastor of Holy Trinity, and closeted his
abhorrent conduct, thereby placing the male children of that church
at risk for life-long injury. (Defendants) knew or should have known
that Katinas was psychologically unfit, a physical, moral and
spiritual menace to young males, and an anathema to his own
Orthodoxy, committing on boys criminal acts abhorrent to decent
society and committing adultery against his wife."
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
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 (of Avydos) 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."
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
Within days of Father Katinas' retirement, the Archdiocese suspended
him 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 is so far refusing to send Father Katinas
before a spiritual court to defrock him, despite being exhorted by
several members of the Eparchial Synod to do so.
Father Katinas is believed to be currently staying with relatives on
the island of Rhodes.