Advocates for sexual abuse victims on Tuesday called for the removal of a top official in the Greek Orthodox church in New England, alleging he was “at least grossly negligent” in supervising a priest who was convicted last year of assaulting a boy in Maine.
Verne E. Paradie, a lawyer for the victim in the Maine case, said in a statement that Rev. Father Theodore J. Barbas, chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston, had an “ethical duty to ensure that this [convicted] priest ... was not a predator.”
“Barbas failed categorically in this capacity, resulting in lifelong physical, psychological and spiritual damage” to the victim in Maine, Paradie said.
Attempts to reach Barbas, and the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston, which oversees Greek churches throughout most of New England, were unsuccessful on Tuesday evening.
Paradie was joined Tuesday by the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, and the Lantern Foundation, a non profit that helps fund religious and community service groups, in calling for Barbas’s removal as chancellor.
Their demands stem from a case involving Adam Metropoulos, a former Greek Orthodox priest in Bangor, Maine.
Matropolous received a 12-year prison sentence last year, with 6 and 1/2 years to serve and the balance suspended, for crimes including the sexual assault of a 15-year-old altar server in 2006 and 2007, according to the Bangor Daily News.
A related civil lawsuit is pending in Maine against Barbas and other church officials for their alleged negligence in the case.
The advocates said in their statement Tuesday that Metropolous had unsupervised access to children during his tenure as a priest, despite credible allegations of sexual misconduct dating back to the 1980s.
“Chancellor [Barbas] must be promptly removed to maintain the integrity of the church,” said Rev. Father Emmanuel Lemelson, a Greek Orthodox priest and president of the Lantern Foundation, in the statement.
Lemelson said that “this horrific incident points to some serious deficiencies in the procedures and protocols used for the oversight of clergy, and those deficiencies require our urgent attention.”
His words were echoed by David Clohessy, the director of SNAP.
“It is clear to us that Fr. Theodore J. Barbas was either complicit in covering for this priest’s predilection for children, or at least intensely negligent in placing him in a position with almost unlimited access to kids,” Clohessy said in the statement.