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Letter to the Media


RE: Storheim Case to Manitoba Court of Appeal Oct. 31

I am a retired economist with some experience in legal advocacy; my wife is a retired law librarian.

The verdict in the case of Archbishop Seraphim (Storheim) raised more questions than it answered, so we invested money and considerable time in analyzing the trial transcripts.

Our basic questions were:
(1) Had a crime occurred?
(2) Was he guilty of that crime?
(3) Did he receive a fair trial?

After several months studying the transcripts, we answered No. Our research and conclusions are contained in two documents. The 'Open Letter' sent to Orthodox authorities worldwide in June critically examined key elements and issues; excerpts are included here. 'Anatomy of a Trial', sent out in August, analyzes the testimony and ruling in detail, with all sources cited; it concludes with a viable innocent explanation of events.

There are so many problems with this case that we cannot summarize them here. For instance, Fr. Kostoff's testimony was taken as corroboration of the boys' historic allegations. Yet his testimony clearly shows that no one alleged sexual touching to him before his dozen phone calls to the family in 2008-2009. Nevertheless, he is referred to on nearly half the pages of the ruling as corroborating different aspects of the allegations.

Our detailed analysis shows that no evidence exists to support the idea that any crime was ever committed. Testimony was weighed in a biased and prejudicial manner, taken out of context, and misquoted; the mother's role was completely distorted. Overall, the ruling is inconsistent with much of the testimony.

We agree that many clergy have gotten away with sexual abuse of children. Does this mean it's now acceptable to convict the innocent?.

In this case the juridical duty to examine and appraise evidence to determine the truth about alleged criminal behavior was not met. The reasoning used by the judge, from trial to sentencing, fails any test of being reasonable.

We urge you to look into this before it goes to the Court of Appeal in Winnipeg on October 31st.

Yours very sincerely,

Larry Motuz and Jane Sminiski, Ottawa

Note: This document is the cover letter which Larry and Jane sent by email to various media sources starting on Oct. 21, 2014.
After making some phone calls in the days before the appellate hearing, the letter was re-sent directly to several news editors.
It was gratifying to see that, except for Sun Media, the headlines and reporting this time around were generally more positive.