Title: Lawsuit Alleges OCA Priest Breached the Seal of Confession
Date Published: 5/1/2008
Today in Howard County, Maryland, a lawsuit was filed against Met.
Herman (Swaiko), the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), the OCA's
Diocese of Washington and New York, Fr. Raymond Valencia,* the
Orthodox Church of St. Matthew (OCSM), St. Matthew Housing
Development, Inc (SMH), and the Board of Directors of St. Matthew
Housing Development, Inc. (SMH BOD). This action was brought by
Kristine Patico Koumentakos and her husband, Nicholas Koumentakos.
While the underlying dispute involves employment discrimination at
SMH and retaliation for reporting that discrimination, the complaint
contains a most troubling allegation in its recitation of facts.
According to the suit, on or about November 1, 2007, Fr. Raymond sent
an email (along with an attached letter) which contained information
about Mrs. Koumentakos that Fr. Raymond had obtained in confession
and during private counseling sessions, as well as knowingly false
statements and embellishments. This material was sent to thirty-nine
individuals, among them Mark Stokoe, the editor of Orthodox
Christians for Accountability. The complaint calls Fr. Raymond's
inclusion of Mr. Stokoe "a clear mean-spirited attempt to publish his
letter to individuals that were not associated with the incidents
Also according to the suit, the OCA sent Fr. Alexey Karlgut,
described as an "untrained investigator," to look into the matter.
However, Fr. Alexey allegedly dropped his investigation, never
interviewing the witnesses given to him by Mrs. Koumentakos, when she
refused to waive her right to seek further remedies in court.
Mrs. Koumentakos and her husband are seeking compensatory damages in
the amount of one million dollars, and five million dollars in
punitive damages. There are nine counts in the complaint:
Count I: Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (All
Count II: Loss of Consortium (All Defendants);
Count III: Defamation (Defendants Fr. Raymond, SMH and OCSM);
Count IV: Invasion of Privacy -- Unreasonable Publicity Given to
Private Life (Defendants Fr. Raymond, SMH and OCSM);
Count V: Invasion of Privacy -- Placing a Person in a False Light
(Defendants Fr. Raymond, SMH and OCSM);
Count VI: Breach of Fiduciary ["Confidential"] Duty (All Defendants);
Count VII: Negligent Hiring or Retention (All Defendants);
Count VIII: Employment Discrimination (Defendants Fr. Raymond, SMH
and SMH BOD);
Count IX: Employment Discrimination [Retaliation] (Fr. Raymond)
A complete copy of the filed complaint is linked above.
On the OCA website, the spelling of Fr. Raymond's last name is given