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Holy Synod to assess measures against former Kiti bishop following assault ruling

Former Bishop of Kition (left) with then Bishop Georgios of Paphos (Photo: Christos Theodorides)

The woman who won the sexual assault case against the former Kiti bishop Chrysostomos announced on Tuesday that she will file for a retrial of the first rape case brought against the defendant.

According to theologist Theodoros Kyriacou, who spoke to CyBC, the woman has said if she is able to, she will file for a retrial of the first case, where the charge against the bishop was rape, as he had been vindicated by the court at the time.

On Monday, the former Kiti bishop was found guilty of assaulting a teenage girl, who was 16 years old in 1981, when he was holding his post.

Archbishop Georgios III said at the next session of the holy synod the church will decide what measures to take against the former Kiti bishop.

“The church unequivocally condemns such actions, wherever they come from, which are against the Christian faith and against the ethics of church officials,” he said in a statement.

In her reading of the verdict on Monday, judge Evi Efthymiou rejected claims by the defence the case should have been filed earlier.

“He was a high priest, subject to the rules of the church. How was it possible for a 16-year-old to file a complaint against a high priest? How was it possible for a poor seamstress [her mother] to denounce a high priest? Even today it is a scandal, let alone then,” she said.

Regarding the attitude of the bishop in the courtroom, the judge said: “The defendant became arrogant towards the prosecuting authority, while with his lawyer was relaxed.

“On several occasions he became angry with the prosecution and in one of his outbursts, he unreservedly struck the bible in front of him. In one of his rambling depositions in the cross-examination, he mentioned that he himself helped many orphans and mentioned that the greatest honour for him was that he gave many millions for the orphans,” she said.

Meanwhile, head of the federation of women’s movements (Pogo) Skevi Koukouma said that there are more women with similar complaints against the former Kiti bishop.

“They [the other women] went to the police but did not dare go further, because they had heard of the acquittal in the first case. So, you can understand the importance of the decision. It is not just historic, but it is also based on the analysis by the judge, which was sensational and has broken down stereotypes of the patriarchy and the institution of the church,” she said.

As the Larnaca district court announced the verdict those present in the courtroom erupted into a lengthy applause, with some shouting at the defendant, urging him to feel shame for his actions.

After a trial that began in May 2022, the former bishop was convicted of the charge of indecent assault, as the court deemed the testimony of the now 58-year-old, as well as the defence witnesses, to be credible.

On May 26 will announce the sentence, which for the specific crime can be from two to five years.

Founding member of the Network Against Violence Against Women Zelia Grigoriou said the decision is a victory for Cyprus, because “within the judiciary, through the attorney-general’s office, there were people who made a decision that it dispels and weakens all the myths and all the ghosts that have so far been used to wash away rapists and abusers of women.”

She also noted that the decision “recognised that the difference in power that exists between the perpetrator and the victim is a factor against the victim and that this power and demonstration of privileges by the bishop does not exonerate him.”

The plaintiff claimed that during her first visit to Chrysostomos’ office at the Kiti bishopric, the bishop sat down beside her on a sofa and began touching her hands.

He assaulted her on her fifth visit when the cleric shoved her, pressed himself on top of her and kissed her on the lips. She began repeatedly screaming “let me out,” at which point she claimed the bishop got off her and opened the door.

She pressed charges in 2021 – 40 years after the alleged incident.

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