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Cyprus

Sentencing of former bishop over sexual assualt charges delayed (updated)

kiti, bishop, protest
Protesters hung a sign outside court saying 'Sister we believe you' Photo: Christos Theodorides

Former Kiti bishop will be sentenced on June 1 after being found guilty of indecent assault by the Larnaca district court, it decided on Friday.

The bishop was present at Friday’s hearing as were members of the network against violence towards women.

In a packed court room, the cleric sat stoically listening to his lawyer Michalis Pikis present the case for mitigation of his sentence.

Pikis presented evidence to the court including documents of the bishop’s volunteer work and health records.

Regarding his humanitarian work, Pikis said the bishop had helped to create a number of humanitarian organisations in the district, including an association to fight hunger, an association to battle drug addiction, and he aided in bringing the Kenthea association to battle addiction to Larnaca.

The defence also mentioned that the former bishop is at an advanced age, being almost 85, making it difficult for him to go to prison.

Pikis also claimed that due to this advanced age, there is no fear that the former bishop would conduct another crime, also pointing out to the court that he has a clean criminal record.

He requested the court take these factors into consideration, so as to mitigate the sentence for the guilty verdict previously issued.

Last week, the former bishop was found guilty of assaulting a teenage girl, aged 16 in 1981, when he was holding his post.

After a lengthy 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 woman, as well as the defence witnesses, to be credible.

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 allegedly 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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