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Derry Helen

Ottawa, Ontario Canada
letter to the Metropolitan sent on January 29, 2014

Bless Most Reverend Master.

I need to speak with you honestly and openly, and I both hope and trust that you would appreciate such an approach. My heart breaks to hear the verdict on our Vladyka as I know without doubt that he is a holy man and has never abused anyone - ever!

I have known Vladyka Seraphim for many years, having met just a year or so after he became Orthodox in 1979. We were such friends that when the property was bought for him in Spencerville (where he still lives), he lived with my husband, myself and our four small children for a few weeks while we waited for the day the diocese took possession of the property and he could move in. We lived in the countryside nearby, so it was convenient. He often spent time alone with my young son (aged 6) and 3 daughters (2, 8 and 10) and continues to do so until this very day. He never once crossed any lines, made any of them feel uncomfortable or sexualized in any way. Sometimes I would leave them in his care for short periods of time and once even came home and scolded him when I found him hanging the laundry outside in plain view of the entire village. He was a bishop and was not to be doing my laundry (even though I was hopelessly behind on this task).

He has been my spiritual Father for most of my adult life and had held me through impossible difficult times always with love and without judgement. I have seen him minister to the homeless and the mentally unstable on the streets. They are drawn to him, his smile and warmth. And he loves each of them equally. I have watched him take abuse, sometimes from people on the street, but also by clergy and a particular matushka (who shall remain nameless) who used to scream insults at him and put him down in front of the parishioners. And again he would always respond with love, and grace.

I realize that all of this seems unconnected to the fact that he was found guilty of abusing a boy 30 years ago, but please bear with me.

I remember back in his early days as Bishop he took a young native boy under his wing (10 years old or so). He even invited this boy visit him in Ottawa at the request of the boys parents. At the time I feared that people would misconstrue his intentions. This young boy was called Jason. He testified at the trial that never anything inappropriate took place, not once, not even close, not even anything uncomfortable. He in fact attributed the fact that he is sane and stable, and now married with children of his own all to Vladyka's support and love for him during a very difficult period of his young life. A time he feared he was getting lost and slipping into a depression.

The judge in this case made crazy claims, he dismissed all the supportive testimonies (he didn't even mention Jason, as if he didn't exist) and made insane claims such as the one that Connie's testimony was invalid because she would have married Vladyka had he not chosen to become a Bishop as a career. (He got this out of his very own head, as there was nothing to support this claim).

It is a well known fact that sexual predators cannot stop, and the incidences escalate. More victims come forward once charges are laid. Did you know that certain people determined to find him guilty even went to Ukraine to look for victims and not one, not a single one came forward? They attributed this to the fact that he is a high ranking cleric and they were too afraid. I believe with all my heart that this is because he is innocent.

The churches he served in as an Anglican priest were approached and they too said never once was there ever a claim against him, or even any suspicion of misconduct. That he was always loving, kind and supportive. This cannot be an isolated incident, if he is sexually twisted then there must be more.

We meanwhile as his flock have been ordered to keep quiet lest we upset the accusers (victims) and not speak of him or his character. We cannot testify about his goodness or his kindness and exemplary life as a man who lays his life down for others. This is shameful, and has resulted in a false one sided judgment.

The fact that someone hurt those boys is very likely, the fact that it was Vladyka Seraphim is impossible.

All of this leads me to beg of you, to not act hastily in making a judgement based on the ruling of this one judge. Please wait until an appeal has been heard. I cannot believe that other judges would be so ridiculous in the judgment of facts presented at this case.

On Friday after we heard the verdict Vladyka Seraphim told us (via telephone) that the important thing is to Glorify God, but I do not have his love or strength or trust. I hurt for him as I know that a holy man is being made to suffer. I can no longer sit back in silence and do nothing.

Please forgive me and pray for me.

Helen Derry