Devastating Lawsuit Hits Archdiocese

By Theodore Kalmoukos
Special to the National Herald

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 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



Rev. Nicholas Katinas stands next to the colyva, at his
parish in Dallas, Texas in this March 22, 1998 photo.
Katinas was suspended a few days after he retired last
summer due to allegations of sexual misconduct. Those
allegations are now filed in a major lawsuit

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 well­known 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 country.

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 sex 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 (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 cover­up (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.





(Posting date 9 May 2006)

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