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Former archibishop loses appeal, heads to jail

A disgraced former archbishop at the centre of a sexual assault trial began serving his sentence, turning himself in after the Manitoba Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal this morning.

Seraphim Storheim was to spend at least several hours at the Remand Centre before being transferred to Headlingley Correctional Centre to begin serving an eight month sentence, his lawyer said.

Seraphim (Kenneth) Storheim in June 2014.


Seraphim (Kenneth) Storheim in June 2014.

"We lost. The appeals were all dismissed. The fresh evidence motion was dismissed; the conviction appeal was dismissed and the leave to appeal sentence was refused. So basically he began serving his sentence this morning," Storheim’s lawyer Jeff Gindin said today by phone.

Storheim was convicted of sexual assault in January 2014 and sentenced to eight months in jail for an assault dating back almost 30 years. He spent just over week a behind bars before being freed on bail in July 2014 pending his appeal.

That appeal was put before the court in October 2014.

In an unanimous decision released today, Manitoba Court of Appeal Justices William Burnett, Marc Monnin and Alan MacInness rejected Storheim's conviction and sentence appeals.

Burnett, in a 29-page decision, said Storheim "has not demonstrated that the sentence was demonstrably unfit or clearly unreasonable or that it was arrived at as a result of an error in principle.

"As the sentence appeal has no realistic chance of success, leave to appeal is denied."

As well, Burnett dismissed the appeal because the lower court judge's credibility assessment was correct when he said "he did not believe the accused and was not left in reasonable doubt by the accused's testimony."

The sexual assault occurred when an Ontario boy came to visit the priest in Winnipeg in 1985 to further his religious education. Storheim was the parish priest at Holy Trinity Sobor Orthodox Church on Manitoba Avenue at the time of the alleged incidents.

The victim testified that Storheim would routinely walk around naked, touching himself in front of the victim. The victim also testified that Storheim touched him and inspected his groin as he sat naked on a bed during that visit.

Storheim denied any wrongdoing, testifying that he only talked to the boy about puberty and inspected his pyjama bottoms for semen at the boy’s request.

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.


Kenneth Storheim, Archbishop, Found Guilty Of Sexually Assaulting Boy

Posted: Updated:
WINNIPEG - An Orthodox archbishop was convicted Friday of sexually assaulting an altar boy 29 years ago by a judge who ruled Seraphim Kenneth Storheim's denials were "nonsensical."

"I do not believe the testimony of the accused," Court of Queen's Bench Justice Christopher Mainella said in an oral decision that lasted for two hours.

"The accused was not credible about his behaviour. He ... provided nonsensical answers and was not consistent in his version of events."

Storheim, who became the top Canadian cleric for the Orthodox Church in America, was accused of sexually assaulting two brothers in the summer of 1985, when he was a priest in Winnipeg. The brothers, whose identities are protected by a publication ban, lived with Storheim for brief periods, on separate occasions, while they worked as altar boys.

They testified Storheim would walk around naked and asked to be touched sexually. One brother told court Storheim got into bed with him while naked. That brother, however, admitted to memory problems and a history of mental illness and alcohol addiction. Mainella found Storheim not guilty on that charge.

The other brother was very detailed in his recollection of events and was deemed "a credible witness" by the judge. The brother, now in his 30s, said Storheim once combed through the boy's pelvic area to look for pubic hair, examined his pyjamas for semen stains and had the boy touch Storheim's genitals.

Storheim denied any inappropriate touching when he testified. He told court he was telling the boy about puberty based on some Biblical teachings.

The judge rejected Storheim's version of events.

"The accused would have no justification to touch (the boy) as he did," Mainella said.

"This goes beyond a mere misguided discussion about puberty."

Storheim, who is now 68, sat passively but was attentive as the judge delivered the verdict. A small group of supporters hugged Storheim afterward.

A date has not yet been set for sentencing. Outside court, defence lawyer Jeff Gindin said he is likely to ask that Storheim be spared any jail time and to seek probation or a conditional sentence.

"He has no record, and on the scale of sexual assaults, this would be certainly on a lower level compared to some that you see."

Gindin said he may also appeal the conviction, but will wait for the sentence before making a decision.

Storheim was arrested in 2010 after the brothers went to police with their complaint. He was placed on leave.

The Orthodox Church in America has 700 parishes, missions and other institutions across North America. It is separate from other churches such as the Greek Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.



Plug pulled on event for sex offender archbishop Kenneth Storheim


Kristin Annable  QMI Agency


First posted: | Updated:

Archbishop Kenneth William (Seraphim) Storheim
Archbishop Kenneth William (Seraphim) Storheim leaves the Law Courts Building after testifying in his own defence. (KEVIN KING/WINNIPEG SUN)
A small but fervent group remains committed to raising funds for convicted sex offender and disgraced archbishop Kenneth (Seraphim) Storheim.

But the group were stopped in their tracks this weekend when an Ottawa church pulled the plug on one of their fundraising events.

An attempt by the group to throw the party March 5 at Woodroffe United Church was thwarted when SNAP, a U.S.-based support group for clergy abuse victims, alerted the church of the group's true intentions.

It was touted as a chamber music concert on a website devoted to raising money for Storheim's legal defence.

"We don't support funding for people who have been convicted of sexual abuse," explained Rev. Jan Lougheed of her decision to cancel the event.

Lougheed said a woman who uses the church to teach Russian to children on Saturdays approached her a few weeks ago and asked her if the church was free on that date.

"This was not a church event," Lougheed was quick explain, adding it was more like a person booking a hall.


The church received a letter last week from SNAP, informing them of the nature of the event and who the proceeds would be going to.

"We were certainly misled by the people who spoke to us," Lougheed said, who previously believed it was going to be a concert put on by a piano quartet from Illinois.

"We have a large church that is a good venue for music."

Lougheed said the Saturday school teacher was also unaware of the who the event was in support of.

"She was quite shocked and in disbelief, because she wasn't aware either," she said

The woman showed Lougheed the poster she had received from the organizers and the poster did not disclose where the money was going.

"As far as all the people in Ottawa go, we had no idea. We were totally misled about this event, we had no idea what was happening."

The former archbishop was found guilty in January of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy while serving as a rector at Holy Trinity Sobor in Winnipeg between 1984 and 1987.

Despite the verdict, Alexander Ovodov remains a member of this fundraising group.

He is member of Sobor of the Holy Resurrection in Vancouver, and he maintains Storheim is innocence and continues to raise money for his legal defence.

"We've already collected money for the trial ... it was about $60,000," he said.

Storheim remains free on bail and his lawyer Jeff Gindin said he will likely be sentenced in June and the intention is to file an appeal.

Twitter: @kristinannable




The archbishop for Canada of the Orthodox Church in America was charged with two counts of sexual assault, the police in Winnipeg, Manitoba, said on Thursday. The allegations against the archbishop, Kenneth William Storheim, who is known as Archbishop Seraphim within the church, date back 30 years, according to a statement issued last month by the church. The police declined to give any details about the charges, citing a publication ban.






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