Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Priest sues woman over sex claims

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A veteran priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is suing a former parishioner, alleging a damaging letter of complaint she wrote to his superiors resulted in his forced retirement.

Rev. John A. Melnyk, 84, said the woman's letter alleged inappropriate sexual advances and contact, which Melnyk said never happened.

In a statement of claim filed recently, Melnyk said the woman's letter of complaint "injured his credit and reputation" and resulted in him being "brought into scandal, odium and contempt."

Melnyk is asking the court to award him unspecified special and general damages and his court costs.

The woman filed a statement of defence, insisting her letter of complaint was truthful, accurate and justified, and she denied her letter caused any damage to Melnyk's reputation.

The woman could not be reached for comment.

The allegations have not been proven in court. No court dates have been set.

Melnyk told the Free Press he had been the parish priest at St. Michael's Ukrainian Orthodox Church on Disraeli Street since 1997 when in the summer of 2011, he asked to be transferred to a rural Manitoba parish near the American border.

Melnyk said his superior rejected the request and told him to take retirement on the grounds of the letter of complaint from the parishioner.

"I asked to be replaced from St. Michael's but I wanted to continue serving... a country parish near the American border, where I had served for 23 years, on a monthly basis," Melnyk told the Free Press. "He (the superior) refused to give me an extension because he said I had a sexual charge against me."

Melnyk said he has known the woman who made the complaint against him for five or six years, adding he believes her to be in her 60s.

He said he's been married for 58 years and has never been the subject of any similar complaints in the past.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 26, 2012 B2

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