Archbishop Storheim found guilty of sexually assaulting altar boy

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The Winnipeg Free Press

24 January 2014 Posted: 12:22 PM

A high-ranking Orthodox archbishop has been convicted of sexually assaulting a young altar boy while working in a Winnipeg church nearly 30 years ago.

Seraphim Storheim, 67, showed little visible reaction today as he learned his fate. He will be sentenced later this spring and remains free on bail.

Queen’s Bench Justice Chris Mainella blasted Storheim in his two-hour decision, saying his claims of innocence rang hollow.

“He loves to parse words and concepts,” Mainella said in finding Storheim’s testimony lacked credibility. “Other times he would provide nonsensical answers. I reject his evidence entirely.”

Storheim did win a partial victory, as Mainella convicted him of molesting just one of two brothers who claimed they were attacked. Mainella cited issues with the other alleged victim, including mental illness, which impacted the quality of evidence he was able to provide.

Storheim had taken the witness stand in his own defence, claiming the only thing he was guilty of was caring too much for a troubled family he took under his wing.

Storheim admits he talked to the 11-year-old twin boys about puberty and body development, which included specific comments about ejaculation and pubic hair. He said the topic only came up during Bible study when the boys began asking questions. He said he regrets not quickly changing the subject.

But he repeatedly denied he ever touched the boys or repeatedly exposed himself to them, as they claimed on the witness stand. He said any touching that occurred was “certainly by accident.”

Storheim conceded it’s possible the boys might have seen him walking around in the nude during sleepovers at his home, but added, “there was never an intentional display.”

“I overstepped a sense of compassion,” said Storheim, now an archbishop with the Orthodox Church in America, which has historical ties to the Russian Orthodox Church.

He admits writing a letter of apology to the family years later in which he said, “I probably stepped over a pastoral line.” But he claims those remarks were for the talk about puberty and nothing more sinister.

Storheim was the parish priest at Holy Trinity Sobor Orthodox Church on Manitoba Avenue at the time of the alleged incidents. Storheim had befriended the boys’ family while he served at another parish in another community and the brothers visited him separately that summer.

Storheim had been the most senior cleric of his church in Canada when the charges were laid in the fall of 2011, holding the title of Archbishop of Ottawa and Canada, but was subsequently suspended from that post pending the outcome of the criminal charges and an internal church investigation.

6 Responses to Archbishop Storheim found guilty of sexually assaulting altar boy

  1. Sylvia says:

    Actually the charges were laid late November 2010. It has been a long three years since charges were laid. Well done to the twins for speaking up. It is however unfortunate that the judge did not accept the testimony of one of the brothers. Still, for all of Storheim’s denials, he has been convicted!

  2. joannis macleslie says:

    The judge’s reasoning process is impaired. Guilty without any evidence abrogates the essential common law necessity of innocent until PROVEN guilty. Secondly how can he argue that he was a child molester with one boy but not interested in the other – that is faulty reasoning and shows a misunderstanding of child predators. and then other witnesses said he pastored with an open door to other parishioners who might enter at any time. and the judge heard of a whole body of parishioners of many parishes of his being a saintly man. always meek and gentile in all respects and always has been. this makes me highly suspicious of this judge and who appointed him – the ndp? happy life and times in ndp and liberal manitoba. i doubt a jury would have convicted him. also, the accusers were egged on by a wayfaring anti-priest organization from another country, all the while we know that putin wants to see the end of the OCA Orthodox. this smells like bad justice to me, and i’m the descendent of the chief justice of england, sir matthew hale. yes, something is rotten on the manitoba bench.

    • BC says:

      The NDP couldn’t have appointed Justice Mainella because the NDP never formed the Government of Canada. Justice Mainella was appointed on October 5, 2012 by the Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls and Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. Justice Mainella was also appointed a judge of the Court of Appeal for Manitoba last October 2, 2013 by the Honourable Peter MacKay, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Central Nova and Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.

      You would perhaps want to find out about the genocidal tyrant and religious persecutor who had appointed your learned ancestor…

      • Leona says:

        Great reply, B.C! Your comment warranted a quick wikipedia search where at first glance it appears that Sir Hale was a man of integrity, but it would not have been of any benefit to be a wise or thinking woman during his time, as the quote from Wikipedia below shows:
        “Hale’s writings on witchcraft and marital rape were extremely influential. In 1662, he was involved in “one of the most notorious of the seventeenth century English witchcraft trials”, where he sentenced two women (Amy Duny and Rose Callender) to death for witchcraft, sorcery and “unnatural love”.[107] The judgment of Hale in this case was extremely influential in future cases, and was used in the Salem witch trials to justify the forfeiture of the accused’s lands.[108] G. Geis, writing in the British Journal of Law and Society, ties Hale’s opinions on witchcraft in with his writings on marital rape, which are found in the Historia.[109] Hale believed that a marriage was a contract, which merged the legal entities of husband and wife into one body.[110] As such, “The husband cannot be guilty of a rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife, for by their mutual consent and contract the wife hath given up herself in this kind unto her husband, which she cannot retract”.[111] This exception to the law of rape existed in England and Wales until 1991, primarily due to his influence, until it was repealed by the House of Lords in R v R.[112][113]”

        As to Joannis’ comments on the “anti-priest organization from another country”. I am well aware that my friend Melanie Sekoda, from this not to be named organization, availed herself to support the victims who contacted her. She has willingly volunteered her time to address media calls speaking on behalf of all victims to give them the courage to come forward and to help keep children safe. Most members of this organization including myself, are not “anti-priest” but are pro children’s safety!

  3. JG says:

    Good for you!….
    That last post really helped to clear up any confusion!!!….
    Too much in that plate of yours…! Take a deep breath.
    One of my ancestors was “Theodoric”…but that doesn’t give me the right to claim Vienna!…
    Politics, religion, Putin, sexual predators….!!!???
    Flock shooting is nothing but a blind guess, not marksmanship!
    Make your next shot count…! …eyes opened wide! There are several “details” in the above text which should paint a clear picture for you if you are neutral in your “reasoning”…The Archbishop didn’t deny the allegations, he just colored his conscience to make the memories acceptable to himself! The Judge didn’t buy it and did his job as he should.
    ….just a friendly observation.


  4. BOOTS says:

    The one boy whose testimony was accepted could describe various markings on the Suspended and Convicted Archbishop’s body .
    The judge in his ruling said Seraphim loves to parse words and concepts as well as provide nonsensical answers.
    I’ve been in meetings with Seraphim where he has done the very same thing , parse words/concepts/nonsensical answers.
    I applaud the victims COURAGE , will pray for them and hope this brings some sort of closure for them.
    When I heal some more I will also pray for Seraphim
    I also wish to thank Pokrov who do so much for victims of clergy abuse.

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