Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Former archbishop receives jail time

Sexually assaulted altar boy in home

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He's devoted his life to his religious calling, rising over decades to become one of the highest-ranking officials of his church in Canada.

But Seraphim (Kenneth) Storheim's molestation of a young altar boy nearly 30 years ago while a trusted parish priest in Winnipeg's North End has landed him in jail for eight months.

Storheim's face remained impassive Wednesday after learning his fate from Justice Chris Mainella.

Mainella denied the 68-year-old a conditional sentence, which would have kept him out of jail and under house arrest in Ontario.

Storheim, now retired as an archbishop of the Orthodox Church in America, appeared more upset at having to remove wooden crosses from under his shirt before sheriffs took him into custody.

"The accused was a mature offender at the time of the offence, the offence was a gross abuse of trust and the lasting effects of the crime on the victim are serious," Mainella found.

The victim, now 40, has suffered "permanent emotional trauma" because of Storheim's conduct, Mainella said. Mainella convicted Storheim of sexual assault earlier this year following a high-profile Court of Queen's Bench trial.

The victim was an 11-year-old boy from Ontario visiting Storheim in Winnipeg in 1985.

The assault on the boy consisted of a single and extremely brief incident of inappropriate touching when both were naked in the child's room.

Storheim claimed the mutual nudity was for the purposes of sex education. Mainella rejected this, instead finding Storheim was interested in his own sexual gratification.

As well, there was evidence Storheim was "grooming" the victim, Mainella indicated.

"Sexual education does not require mutual nudity or the touching of genitalia," Mainella said in his 22-page written decision.

At the time, Storheim was the parish priest at Holy Trinity Sobor Orthodox Church on Manitoba Avenue.

He went on to rise through the ranks of his church to become one of its Canadian leaders. He had no criminal record. He was suspended after turning himself in to Winnipeg police to face the sexual-assault charge in 2010.

Storheim will appeal his conviction and sentence, defence lawyer Jeff Gindin said after court.

He'll argue Mainella made mistakes when assessing the credibility of witness testimony, said Gindin.

Storheim will also seek bail pending the outcome of his appeal.

The bail request will likely be heard a week from Thursday in front of a Court of Appeal motions judge.

Storheim supporters declined comment.

"I better not," said one woman who has been a frequent face during the sentencing process. "I don't feel so good," she said.

The eight months Mainella handed down were less than the year of jail prosecutors had requested.

Mainella said he gave serious consideration to keeping Storheim from seeing jail, but found he couldn't let that happen.

The Orthodox Church in America has 700 parishes, missions and other institutions across North America.

It is separate from other Orthodox churches such as the Greek Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

-- with files from The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 10, 2014 B4

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