Group Says Priest Abuse Claims Ignored

By Chris Kitching
October 7, 2010

Allegations a Canadian archbishop sexually abused boys when he was a priest in Winnipeg were raised a quarter-century ago but weren't acted upon, a victims' advocacy group claims.

Cappy Larson, co-founder of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) Orthodox, said she was told the claims against Seraphim Storheim were reported to the Winnipeg church where he was a priest and forwarded to the New York-based Orthodox Church in America (OCA).

Nothing came of it and the matter quietly went away, Larson said.

"(The alleged inaction) is absolutely heartbreaking. It takes so much courage to tell somebody," Larson said. "My hope is that if these allegations are true it all comes out in the investigation. I really hope the (complainants) will have an opportunity to heal and get beyond this."

Archpriest Eric Tosi, OCA's secretary, declined comment.

Winnipeg police are investigating the claims. Storheim hasn't been charged with a crime.

Since his time in Winnipeg in the 1980s, Storheim has been promoted to his current position in the Ottawa area as head of the OCA's Canadian archdiocese.

Larson said she is aware of two complainants who claim they were abused in Winnipeg when they were about 10 years old, about 25 years ago.

Police haven't revealed the number of complainants.

Larson said the allegations re-surfaced two years ago. In that time, at least one person filed a complaint with police.

Larson said the OCA should have taken action when the claims were raised years ago.

Born in Alberta, Storheim was the rector of the Holy Trinity Sobor at Manitoba Avenue and McKenzie Street in Winnipeg from December 1984 to June 1987, according to an online biography.

In a statement released Sunday, the OCA said Storheim requested and was granted a leave of absence while police investigated the matter.

Storheim published a letter two days earlier stating he was granted a three-month leave, but cited no specific reason.

"Having also seen my physician, I was informed that this leave is rather overdue," Storheim wrote.


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