More women have been sexually abused by clerics but chose not to report it, theologian Theodoros Kyriacou said on Friday, a day after the former Kiti bishop was sentenced for assaulting a minor.
The case of the former Kiti bishop Chrysostomos is not the first nor the last sexual assault case within the church, the theologian told AlphaNews.
“I have a lot of information coming from women who have been assaulted and I try to convince them to go to court.
“So, we are talking about a continuous situation. We are not talking about two exceptional cases,” he said.
The 85-year-old former bishop received a 12-month prison sentence suspended for three years on Thursday after he was found guilty of assaulting a 16-year-old girl in 1981. In a different case, he was also faced with a rape charge, but was acquitted because the plaintiff’s testimony was deemed unreliable since she couldn’t remember the length of his underwear from 2011.
“If they were able to have the calls that were being made from the office at that time, a lot would have come out,” Kyriakou said.
He added that the court’s lenient decision might also lead the Holy Synod to do the same and choose not to defrock Chrysostomos.
Meanwhile, the woman who was assaulted by the former Kiti bishop Chrysostomos as a teenager said she is “partially satisfied” with the court sentence and is expecting the Holy Synod to announce whether they will defrock the cleric.
She told Politis radio that the ultimate punishment for the former bishop will be to have his ministerial credential removed.
The woman, now aged 58, said she contacted the archbishopric asking to speak with the Archbishop, but didn’t receive a response. She only spoke on the phone with the current Kiti Bishop Nektarios whom seemed “nice and polite”.
It is understood that Chrysostomos is still enjoying all the perks of a bishop four years after he resigned, including staying at the Metropolis, where the current Kiti Bishop should have been living in.
The woman also detailed her journey before she reported the assault to the police in 2021.
At the time, she said she was advised to go to go back to the bishop’s office and have a photographer on the roof to catch him on the act. She was told without evidence she could not persecute him because he is “half the state”.
After she got married, she started speaking up about her assault story to her closed circle. She even told what happened to some priests and revealed that one told her: “Think of the positive, you are half blessed”.
Once the case went to court, people kept telling her to not expect much since “this is Cyprus”.
The woman also blamed the state over the lack of support saying “in essence you are on your own”.
Commenting on the court sentence, human rights lawyer Nicoletta Charalambidou said she was not surprised because this “unfortunately falls within the lines of sentencing jurisprudence”.
“I am not criticising the judge but the line of jurisprudence that does not recognise aggravating circumstances in offenses that affect gender,” she wrote on Facebook.
She reminded of the extremely lenient sentences for sexual abuse of children, especially girls, while in cases of trafficking and sexual exploitation the victims were found to be unreliable.
“We still have a long way to go. But the conviction was a start,” she noted.