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Open Letter to Orthodox Hierarchs

The Excerpts from the

Your Beatitude Tikhon and all Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America.

... I’m going to tell you a story. It’s a real story about an honorary family member of mine. Many knew him as +Seraphim, Archbishop of Ottawa and all Canada, before he was forced to retire. He is one of the very few rare innocents I’ve adopted.1 In fact, my closest friends are like those of Christ:  a bad lot who people tell me I shouldn’t associate with. Archbishop Seraphim is the exception.

Anyway, a long, long time ago—back in 1984—he met an immigrant mother, her twin boys and her daughter. This mother had been badly abused by her husband. Her spouse’s guns, knives, alcohol, rages and beatings took a toll on her and on her family. She left him for the life of a single mother with young children. Not surprisingly, she struggled.

On his rounds as a priest and in Church services, Fr. Seraphim met her and her family. He grew fond of them. Her twin boys looked up to him. They saw him as something of a father figure.2 They grew close to him; and he, to them.

Life happens.

It also happened that he was assigned to Winnipeg. He got a month’s notice of that.

Doubtless, his parishioners learned about this. He may have told some during his pastoral visits with them; or, he may have announced his pending departure after church services; or he may have done both. As I’ve said, it was long ago. Time is often the adversary of memory.

Now it might have happened that he told the mother of his transfer, said his good-byes to her and the boys, and wistfully said he hoped they might visit him in Winnipeg. Or, it might not have happened.

Certainly no fixed, definite plans for a possible visit were made before he left.

As it happened, a few months later a former parishioner from North Carolina called him to ask if his son might visit and stay in the rectory where Fr. Seraphim and Fr. Evan Lowig lived.  The son had been studying the Psaltery - memorizing the Psalms - when Fr. Seraphim had been their parish priest in North Carolina. He had tutored the boy, who was now about thirteen.  Fr. Seraphim agreed to the visit.

After Fr. Seraphim relocated to Winnipeg, there were ongoing phone calls between him and the mother in London. Sometimes he called. Sometimes she did.  Sometimes, being out when the other called, one called the other back.

However it happened, in one of these to-and-fro calls he mentioned to her that the teen from North Carolina would be coming to visit, living in the rectory and that he would be coming later in the summer (July) of 1985.  According to Fr. Seraphim, the twins’ mother asked him if her boys might also visit at that time.

Now, according to her, that wasn’t what happened at all. She says he had invited the twins before moving to Winnipeg.

Maybe-yes; maybe-no.

Certainly, however, a possible visit had been alluded to, and they would have had to talk together on the phone at some point if only to work out the details. 

Later, he says that she told him such duties as delivering newspapers meant that only one boy could travel at a time. She denies this. She says that both boys were invited for the same time period, remembering that both were there at the same time, flying back together. When confronted with the fact that they had not, she became confused.3/4Actually, most of her testimony was confused and confusing.


It’s an absolute fact that the boys did not go together. One twin came first and the other one later. All Fr. Seraphim can recall is that some time passed between the two visits, but that they were both in July.5 Neither of the boys was asked if travelled in the same year.6 Now that might be important. The mother could hardly have afforded flying both boys to Winnipeg in the summer of 1985.7 Thus, the judge presumes that she had help. This led the judge to presume that Fr. Seraphim could have paid for all or part of their air fares by tapping parishioners with the intent to get these children alone with him. This is how a judge’s speculations become ‘fact’.

Fr. Seraphim, as Judge Mainella put it, knew “whom to tap financially”.

Fr. Seraphim said it was possible he helped. He didn’t think so. He didn’t think he could afford to. Certainly, there was no evidence that he asked anyone to chip in for their trip; or, for that matter, that anyone did. He was not asked if this might have happened.

But, for the sake of argument, let’s say he did ‘tap’ someone, and helped the mother out with the cost of the airfares. What can honestly be said about this if that happened?

It’s understandable—if he did that—that he might have wanted to help her, given her circumstances.

Obversely, if he hadn’t helped her and had had the resources to help her, would this clearly show just how cold-hearted, conniving, and callously cruel he was as a child predator, heartlessly using this mother to pursue his sexual proclivities?

But what if she could have afforded sending one twin one year and the other the next? And, what if, in this scenario, he did actually help her out...something he doesn’t recall or think he did. Would that helping necessarily make him a child predator?

Let’s move on with this story.

The first twin arrives. I speculate that this might have been on a weekday if only because air fares are usually lower on weekdays.

According to this twin, he and Fr. Seraphim were generally alone in the rectory.

He doesn’t  remember the other boy--the teen from North Carolina--ever being present during the two weeks he visited; that he and that teen visited the Winnipeg Zoo, Fort Garry and other tourist sites with Connie Kucharcyzk and Fr. Seraphim; that he and this teen went swimming together at Connie Kucharcyzk’s apartment pool; that they spent two to three days together at Connie’s lakefront, family cottage, along with her father and Fr. Seraphim; that he and this teen slept in Connie’s cottage bedroom and shared a double bed. Nor does he remember going out fishing with this teen, with Fr. Seraphim and with Connie’s father.8

And, he doesn’t remember Connie Kucharcyzk at all.

Indeed, on this twin’s testimony, you would never know the teen from North Carolina was ever there, or that Connie Kucharcyzk made great efforts to ensure that both visiting boys had a fun time throughout their visit.

In fact, he remembers absolutely nothing except that he came for two weeks to serve as an altar boy.

Connie very much remembers all of these things, including taking the boys out for meals—burgers, pizza. She did lots of things to make their visit enjoyable. And, from her testimony one can deduce the first twin’s two-week trip largely overlapped with that of the teen from North Carolina...the teen who was apparently never there, were we to rely solely on  this twin’s memory.9 As already noted, nor was Connie any part of his memory.

This said, Connie Kucharcyzk doesn’t remember the later visit by this twin’s brother. 10

When presented with a note in his own handwriting, this first twin acknowledged that, yes he must have been to this cottage.  And when pressed and shown another thank-you letter written by Fr. Seraphim thanking Mr. Kucharcyzk for having invited both boys, the twin admitted that, well then this teen must have been at the cottage with him.

This led the judge to conclude that these boys’ visits to Winnipeg overlapped “at least a weekend”.

Naturally, this doesn’t follow from the evidence. If this twin does not remember the lad from North Carolina at all (or Connie), this is not reliable evidence of a minimal overlap between their visits. Nor is it evidence of minimal interactions with Connie.

It means rather that other testimony should be looked at about these two boys’ overlapping stays. We’ll see later how the judge actually treated that clear testimony pointing to a high degree of overlap, all in order to conclude both a minimal overlap and to also conclude that Fr. Seraphim and the twin spent most of the visit together with no one else about, giving him lots of opportunity to walk about naked and what-not. 11

Connie thought this outing at the cottage was for two to three days; adding ‘a weekend’, not recalling that going to a cottage during the weekend would have been difficult for Fr. Seraphim given his obligations to conduct Saturday and Sunday services. Archbishop Seraphim was not asked about this. We’ve asked, and his answer is, “No. I never asked any other priest to replace me to take a weekend off that summer.” I’m sure that church records would support this.

Now this is what this twin remembered:

Q         What sort of activities or what did you do while you were here in Winnipeg?
Twin    The main activity that I recall was serving as an altar boy in the church.

Q         Okay.
Twin    And another activity would be going to, going to people's houses and blessing their houses. I'm not sure if that's considered activity but that's, those are the two I, I remember vividly.  And we did --

Q         And --
A         Sorry, and when we did, when we did visit these people's houses for the blessings, some cases like a long drive, long drive to, to even farm yards.

Q         Do you have any idea how many times you went to different peoples’ houses?
A         Is, is quite a few, but I don't know.

He did, however, remember Fr. Lowig.  He said in trial, “There was one other priest. There was other priest who was occasionally there.” (Emphasis added.)12 And now the story takes a turn for the worse. The following describes what the twin alleges happened on the first day, just after settling in, and on multiple occasions afterwards:

Twin    Father Seraphim asked if he can, if he can walk around naked.

Q         He asked you if he could walk around naked?
Twin    Yes.

Q         And did you respond or do you remember?
Twin    I, I, I, I responded.  It didn't bother me.  I had nothing else to say because I thought everything would, everything that he was doing or everything that he, he says, any order he'd given me, I would listen.  But that was a very, very, very strong to this day, just a tingling in my stomach how, how, just the fact of seeing a, seeing a naked man for the first time.

Q         Was -- do you know if this was on the same day when you arrived or a different day?
Twin    It was the same day.

Q         Okay.  So you said that you saw him naked?
Twin    Yes.

Q         Did you see him take his clothes off?
Twin    Yes.

Q         Do you recall where you were when this happened?
Twin    Yes.  It was in the kitchen, in between the kitchen and the living room.

Q         And after, after his clothes were removed, what happened after that?
Twin    It was, it was just a normal, it was just like a normal day inside a house.  It was just walking around naked.  That's, that's, that's pretty much how to explain it.  There's, there was -- he was walking, he was naked.  It's -- throughout the, throughout the daily events of, of being in a house it was, he was just naked.

Q         Now, did it just happen on this first day that you were there?
Twin    No.  Multiple occasions.

This is not the story of boy on a vacation from home, serving largely on week-ends, and having a lot of fun doing other things when not serving as an altar boy.

It is instead the story of a boy far from home, prey to a predator, alone with him, one that gives Fr. Seraphim lots of opportunity to do unsavory and morally repugnant things because he is mostly alone with that boy.

The twin recalls Fr. Lowig.  But though this priest lived there, he’s there only occasionally. Nor, according to his memory, was the teen from North Carolina ever there. Er, neither could have been about when Fr. Seraphim walked about naked doing other alleged unsavory things. ...  Could they?13

Now, if true, the allegation that he walked about naked is certainly morally abhorrent. This would prejudice me immediately against such a priest. I could believe almost anything of a priest who did that, if it were true.14

I’d be so undeniably disgusted at such a foul priest that, if it were then alleged that he brought hookers over, had orgies, or had molested a child--well, I could just rush to judgment.

If true, or if I believed it to be true, my moral prejudice against him would be so high that I would be emotionally inclined to not allow that priest any shadow of a reasonable doubt about far more serious allegations.

Some might say that such things don’t necessarily follow from walking about naked, if true. Yet, that’s how moral prejudice works. If you believe that a person behaved in one morally loathsome way, it’s not much of a stretch to come to believe that he could also have behaved in other morally abominable ways.

When that happens no evidence is actually needed to emotionally believe the worst. Indeed, what evidence there is that these things might not have ever happened is subsequently dismissed, no matter how strong that evidence might be.15

On balance, what evidence is there that Fr. Seraphim walked about naked?

This twin, now an adult, said Fr. Seraphim had moles on his back; that he was not circumcised; and that he had pale skin; and, horror, that his genital hair was reddish-orange.

At the time of his visit, Fr. Seraphim had reddish-brown (between ginger and auburn) hair on his head. Presumably, he had similarly coloured hair elsewhere. A child might not know that. An adult male testifying to this certainly would.

He had moles on his back. Well, certainly, if he’d had any opportunity to see Fr. Seraphim without a shirt on during a two week stay with him, but not intentionally naked, such moles would have been visible.

Neither, on balance, means much.

That leaves the fact he knew Fr. Seraphim was circumcised.

Is it possible to have known that without having seen Fr. Seraphim naked? (Let’s, just for the sake of argument, rule out the possibility that he might accidently have been glimpsed changing, showering, and/or what-not.)

It appears somewhat damning, indeed.

But, what if Fr. Seraphim had told him?

Er, why would he do that? And, how inappropriate!

Good question. But let’s not rush to judgment, okay?

It so happens that Fr. Seraphim was doing some Bible studies with the boys and that, in one of these, the discussion segued into one about circumcision, puberty, bodily emissions and the like.

The judge said about this:

“The accused has a poor memory of the discussion of sexual education during a Bible session.  His evidence about what happened and why it happened was vague.  He also equivocated, which is unusual because such a discussion was, according to him, not something he ever did.  The reference to the books of Genesis and Exodus is nonsensical to begin a discussion about ejaculation, menstruation, circumcision, erections, and like topics.” (Emphasis added.)


It so happens that the books being talked about were the five books of Moses—the Pentateuch.

There happens to be a preeminent, very important event in Genesis as an historical account of the Jews. It’s called the Covenant with Abraham. This is also known as, and often referred to as, the Covenant of Circumcision by Judaic, Christian and Muslim scriptural scholars.

The Covenant reads:

This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised.  And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants. A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”16 (Bold added.)

Now, if I was talking about Genesis with the twin and the teen from North Carolina,and if one of them asked me what circumcision or a foreskin was—let’s suggest that not all 11 to 13 year olds knew this in pre-Internet 1985—then I might be hard-pressed to answer without mentioning anything about penises or foreskins. I could avoid answering, of course, by saying that, whatever circumcision is, it’s no longer required among Christians because Christ established a new covenant. 

Or, I might actually tell them what a foreskin is. I might also answer other questions if I was asked to. Some of those could involve puberty, especially given the age of these two boys.

The following is Fr. Seraphim’s testimonial account:

Q         All right.  Okay.  Now, he [the first twin] also testified that there was a discussion that took place regarding puberty, different kinds of discharges, things of that nature.  Now, tell us whether there was any such discussion that took place with him.
A         Such a discussion occurred, yes.

Q         All right.
A         Sometime during the two weeks.

Q         Okay.  And do you recall where it occurred?
A         In the living room.

Q         Okay.  And do you recall whether [the first twin] was there by himself or [the teen] might have been there?
A         They were both there.

Q         Okay.  And can you remember how it came to be that this type of information was being discussed?  Who brought it up?
A         I don't remember exactly.  It came up somehow.  There are two possibilities.  One is that [the teen] may have raised the subject somehow.  But more likely it will have been because we were talking about genesis and those first five books of Moses have a number of things in them that could make lots of questions for people.

Q         Okay.  And so somehow there was a question asked by someone, you're not sure who?
A         Yes.

Q         And do you recall more precisely how -- what was being discussed or what it related to that led to a discussion that you're about to tell us about?
A         Could you ask the question again?

Q         Yes.  Do you recall was it a question that was put to you or can you be more specific about how this discussion started?
A         At this distance I can't be very specific about how it, it started.

Q         Okay.
A         I just know that it, it happened.

Q         Okay.  And --
A         And I, I -- my, my best guess is one of these two, and probably reading Genesis

Q         Okay.  In any event, there was some question asked of you and you got involved in a discussion?
A         Yes.

Q         And what did you say?
A         I -- part of this -- most -- according to logic.  This is not my recollection, but according to logic, Genesis and Exodus in particular are talking about discharges that men have and so forth and women have too.

Q         Um-hum.
A         And what are the consequences of these things.  And so the question would be what, what does this mean?  And then I thought, well, maybe I have to talk about puberty then so it makes sense to him.

Q         Okay.  So did you discuss puberty?
A         Yes.

The judge says in his ruling:

“He [Fr. Seraphim] testified that his “best guess” was that the discussion about ejaculation and puberty came from a question while discussing the books of Genesis or Exodus with [the teen] and [the first twin].  He testified that was not his recollection, rather, it was logic.  When confronted that such logic made no sense because the books of Genesis and Exodus are histories, he agreed and changed his evidence”.17

So, yes, it is possible that the twin, as well as the older boy from North Carolina, were told what circumcision was. It is possible that Fr. Seraphim said that he was not circumcised, for Christians, unlike Jews and Muslims, don’t have to be.

Add to this the fact that the twins are circumcised...which the earliest visiting twin could have remarked upon...and we are left with a natural segue which could lead to a broader discussion of puberty, penises, bodily discharges and what they were. And, if as said, this twin asked Fr. Seraphim to tell him how to tell if he was having such emissions, then he might have very well have demonstrated how to look for signs of these. 18

We know a discussion of puberty occurred. We know also that, for some reason—one arising out of that discussion—Fr. Seraphim examined this twin’s pajama bottom for stains, reassuring him with something like, ‘No, you don’t have them.’

Moles on his back, colour of his hair, pale skin, and his being circumcised. I am not trying to be clever in showing how these three things could be known or surmised. But I am saying that alleged nudity isn’t a necessary ‘fact’ if one knows such things. Not if one thinks reasonably about this.

I could treat this as a ‘fact’ if and only if I was emotionally or intellectually biased to do so.

In other words, on that kind of “evidence” of walking about naked or talking about puberty, I could convict just about anyone of far more reprehensible things.

Were I so inclined, I could allege that every one of my foster parents sexually abused me on the basis that I do, in fact, know these things about them and more. Frankly I don’t, of course, have any intention of doing so. (There was only physical and emotional negligence and abuse--not sexual.)

But I assure you that I could ‘nail’ every one of them—and there were lots - if someone were to convince me to do so and if I was believed on the basis of such things that I knew  or could easily infer about them.

[Convinced to do so?]

Well, Fr. Kostoff called these twins, as adults, at least 13 times. [Added Note: He had never spoken to them before October 2008.] I can accept one or two apologetic calls on his part, for his not doing anything about  perceived ‘inappropriate behaviour’. Indeed, for not attempting to get the other side of the story, possibly clearing up misperceptions of events, but I cannot accept 13 or more calls without having to question  whether he had other motives for launching a blitzkrieg against Archbishop Seraphim. I am particularly upset that he turned allegations that perhaps Fr. Seraphim had been naked into an explosive case of possibly serial sexual abuse of children. Fr. Kostoff was well aware no sexual touching had been suggested as happening in the boys’ visits. Even today, one of the adult twins said at trial that he was never touched sexually.  Fr. Kostoff was well aware that what he was being told in 2008-2009 was explosively different from merely ‘inappropriate behavior’.  For certain, he knew the story of what had happened had changed from being possibly inappropriate to positively criminal if true.  His own testimony shows that he first learned of ‘explosive stuff’ in 2008 by calling these twins, one of whom is seriously mentally ill—stuff so ‘explosive’ he went to the Chancellor and his Bishop with this ‘new’ news.  I personally suspect the ‘stuff’ got more ‘explosive’ with every call he made.  If there ever is an ecclesiastical court held, I want the opportunity to cross-examine him. I am particularly interested in what it was about the scandal in the OCA (2005) that he stated in the trial as one of the matters that prompted his calls to them. Did he intend to insinuate to the court that this was a sexual scandal within the Church, not a financial one? [And If so, why?]

If all it takes to ‘nail’ someone as a sexual offender is a set of allegations and an implication that there was no other way I might have learned such—namely, some very easily learned or inferred things about themthen heaven help us. For, on that kind of ‘proof’, no one would ever be harmless or innocent when faced with a charge of sexual abuse or assault.  Salem witch trials, I hope, have become things of the past.

For me...that kind of evidence is not ‘conclusive’ even about walking about naked much of the time, much less more serious matters. Not when I examine his defence, look into the texts, consider what he readily admitted, or, if I ask if anything he said he did is, on its face, evidence of abusing a child.

What other seriously implicating evidence was there?


But, you say, “There was a handwritten note of apology for his misbehaviour. He was defending himself for what he’d done. Everyone knows that! (Guilty! Fer sure!)


It’s true that sometime after the second twin’s visit, Fr. Seraphim wrote a note to the mother, leaving it upon her door in London when he was passing through.


Well, because he tried phoning her numerous times after a call she made to him, wherein he recalled her angrily saying he had taught them ‘dirty stuff’ and hanging up on him. He tried to figure out why she was so upset with him that she refused to ever talk to him again.  According to one twin, she became wildly upset whenever he phoned, always hanging up immediately.

Let’s listen to Fr. Seraphim’s testimony about this.

Q         Did you hear again or speak to [the mother] after both boys had gone home?
A         She phoned me about a week after [the second twin] went home.

Q         Okay.  And tell us about what you can recall about that conversation.
A         She addressed me in a very angry way.  She said to me, I'm very angry with you.  I sent, I sent [the twin] to be taught scripture and not dirty stuff.  And then she hung up.

Q         Okay.  And do you recall whether you called her or she called you; can you remember that?
A         She called me.

Q         Okay.  Did you get, did you get a chance to really respond in any way?
A         No.

Q         No.
A         She hung up. 

Q         So this, this remark that you recall her making, I sent them there to talk about scriptures or the Bible --
A         Yes.

Q         -- and not to talk about dirty stuff, something like that?
A         Yes.

Q         Okay.  And she hung up on you?
A         That's correct.

Q         Okay.  Now, what was your reaction to, to that phone call, what did you make of that?
A         I was flabbergasted.

Q         Okay.  And did you do anything after that?
A         Well, I was assuming that she was perturbed about my having talked about puberty with the boys. [Note the ‘boys are one twin and the teen from North Carolina.]

Q         All right.
A         So I tried to contact her and apologize and try to make amends somehow. 

Q         Okay.  Now, before you tried to call again after that conversation, I do think that [the mother] in her evidence said that she never actually spoke to you.  I think she said there were some phone calls and she just kept hanging up.  You recall, however, that there was that one remark she made and then hung up; is that right?
A         That's correct.

Q         Okay.  So you called her back --
A         Yes.

Q         -- after that a couple of times.  Did you ever get to talk to her?
A         No.  I talked to her daughter [...] briefly.  At that time she didn't know what was the matter.

Q         Okay.  Don't get into the conversation with [her daughter].  But the point is at no time were you able to connect with [the mother] on the telephone?
A         No.

Q         Do I take it you tried a few times?
A         Several.  Not lots and lots, but several.

Q         Okay.  And what was your intent in, in calling back other than responding to the phone call you had received?
A         Well, as I said, I, I wanted to try to make amends and find out what, what she was really angry about and --

Q         Okay.
A         -- try to fix it somehow.


So, she was so angry that she refused to speak with him.
She was so angry, said one twin, that she “spitted”.
The first twin testified:

Q         You're not sure what happened to it [the letter]?
A         No.  I, I, I remember reading it, the expression that my mother was giving, and then nothing else about it.19

I could go on and on and on, relating the ins and outs of this true story. But, I won’t. I won’t even get into how Archbishop Seraphim has been all but defrocked, unable to function even as a priest for the past few years. About how he cannot even attend church services in Ottawa...on how suspicion can throw a sheep to the wolves...of which there are many, or so it seems. I won’t talk about how you have silenced all of the deacons, nuns, monks, priests, and other church officials who strongly suspect he’s innocent.20  For he has never been a wolf to those who’ve known his character; only to those who don’t. Those nuns and monks and deacons and priests know his character.

I don’t think I have to speak about such things. They are common knowledge. Most of the parishioners of the Archdiocese have felt abandoned because no one will talk to them. And because you know and I know that many of the events that have happened in the Church to Archbishop Seraphim go well beyond neutrally following adopted procedures. The acts that hide him from sight :: that have made him invisible :: and the silencing of clergy and church officials, go well beyond any vestige of neutrality. So does the obedience that you have put upon the Archdiocesan Council to refuse to accept any documents from his defenders, on the dubious grounds that doing so might open the Archdiocese to civil suits.

When we are not even able to communicate “In Confidence” to our own Archdiocese, you have thrown us to the wolves.  Listening to your lawyers while also refusing to hear from us “In Confidence” is not neutrality, but abandonment not just of one but of all.

What I will talk about next is the judge’s macabre reasoning.

It’s similar to watching a canoeist bravely trying to stroke his way up Niagara Falls. Undaunted by the raging torrent of reasonable inferences that can be drawn rationally from the evidence, he paddles furiously. Ultimately, he fails. [Footnote deleted.]

For instance, according to Judge Mainella:

“According to the accused, he made a choice not to marry Ms. Kucharczyk before being ordained an orthodox priest in 1979.  It was rather obvious in her evidence that Ms. Kucharczyk has strong emotions of loyalty to the accused.  They have known each other for over 35 years.  Despite the fact the accused decided not to marry her, when he became the priest at Holy Trinity in Winnipeg, she spent a great deal of her personal time assisting him with the church and its activities.” [Actually, it wasn’t “According to the accused” but, as I’ll show you, a fabrication by the judge.]

Connie Kucharcyzk has always worked with priests of her parish throughout her life, in part because her family were founding members of the parish; and, in part because she is devoutly and faithfully Orthodox.

So, what has this judge reasoned about her involvement with the church and the accused?

Well, unbeknownst to either Fr. Seraphim or Ms. Connie Kucharcyzk, but very shortly after his meeting her in the fall of 1978 at St. Vladimir’s—for then Fr. Storheim had decided to become a monk and priest and so informed his Bishop in 1978---the judge reasons that Fr. Storheim  considered marrying Connie Kucharcyzk. This—at least in the narrative of the trial judge - left her forever grateful. That consideration prompted her to hold him in very high esteem thereafter; so much so that her testimony must be looked upon as tainted with her favoritism towards him.

Thanks to musings of the trial judge that we know this. (We do cuz the judge says so—and if you can’t believe a judge, who can you believe, huh?)

What else could one infer from the high esteem that Connie Kucharcyzk had, and still has? Certainly not her thirty-five years of knowing him, of working with him on a variety of Church and parish matters, of being a parishioner, of being moved by his homilies that parishioners feel inspired to come from afar to hear or, for that matter, of her seeing his loving interactions with all manner of people?  How utterly implausible and incredible!! Not to mention that it lacks the drama of an unvoiced romantic interest neither of them knew about.

This form of judicial reasoning fails even the threshold of common sense.  It is not rational. It is not evidence-based.  [Added: Nor is it based on testimony.] It has absolutely no factual basis. None whatsoever!

It’s grounded solely in prejudicial reasoning. And that reasoning is emotionally grounded in the acute need the trial judge has to discount most of her testimony in order to convict. So he must, and he does, actually construct ‘facts’ on which he can then find her mostly unreliable. That way he can pick and choose which parts of her testimony he wishes to accept in order to make a conviction.

On the face of her testimony, the first twin must have spent a lot of time together with the teen from North Carolina. If the judge can imply that she was so smitten with then Fr. Storheim because he considered marrying her that—well over a quarter century later—she’s still very biased, then the judge’s problem is solved.

The problem?  Ah, so kind of you to ask.

If you are going to say that someone walked around naked all of the time, simply by ruling out some testimony as biased and unreliable to create a maximum opportunity for a priest to prey upon one visitor, and if her testimony shows that these boys’ visits overlapped and that she and others were frequent visitors (often unannounced and some having keys to the rectory) who never saw any such thing, then you just get there by deciding to reject most of her  testimony as unreliable on the dubious grounds that she remains somewhat smitten with the accused...a triumph of imagination, presumption and speculation over any actually known facts.

The trial judge decided the boys were together “at least a weekend “at the cottage. Not only was Fr. Seraphim not asked about this, the judge did not consider at all that Fr. Seraphim (and most priests) generally did and do not have the option of being away on weekends.  They have duties on weekends, unlike other workers.

I don’t have to tell you or the Holy Synod what those duties are, do I?


We Canadians are not the nebbish cousins of U.S. dioceses.   If you listen only to lawyers, and not this portion of your flock, I cannot begin to assess where this attitude will lead.

Yours in Christ,
Larry Motuz

 His All-Holiness +Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople and New Rome, Ecumenical Patriarch
 His Beatitude +Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa
 His Beatitude +John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
 His Beatitude +Theophilus III, Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and All Palestine
 His Holiness + Kyrill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia,
 His Holiness +Ilia II, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, Archbishop of Mtskheta and Tbilisi
 His Holiness +Irinej (Gavrilovic), Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci, Patriarch of Serbia
 His Beatitude + Daniel, Patriarch of All Romania, Metropolitan of Ungro-Vlachia, Archbishop of Bucharest
His Holiness +Neophyte, Patriarch of Bulgaria, Metropolitan of Sofia   
His Beatitude +Chrysostomos II, Archbishop of New Justiniana and All Cyprus; and
His Beatitude +Ieronymos II, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece

as well as numerous others. [Added: I hope] This open letter will also be posted to within the next week or so.


1 Innocents are, in themselves, very rare and often least in terms of the ways of the world.  God loves them because theirs is a special kind of foolishness, being in but not of the world. I love them because they, and this kind of foolishness, are so very rare. I think it’s a privilege to know them. They put so much trust in God that they can be somewhat burdensome as friends, and, mysteriously, God calls upon very odd people indeed to protect them.

2 As one twin put it “[We] weren't growing up a father so when there was, there was, there was times when [Fr. Seraphim] brought stuff over and gifts.  Always interacted and the, the reason why I kind of said father (inaudible) because -- father figure, is because there's lot of interaction, there's lot of playing, lot of giggling, lot of laughing, and it was just a, it was a very, it was a friendly ordeal.  Like it was like, oh, the Father Seraphim's here, you know, we're real excited.  It was a -- it,  And that's, and that's -- when you're growing up without a father it's, it's, it's tough, it was tough.  And we -- when I say a father figure, is, it was just in a way where he, it was, was very friendly.  It was friendly towards my mother and to my sister and my brother.”

3 Since my wife and I have since found Evan Lowig, the other priest who lived in residence with Fr. Seraphim, we can now say that one twin visited in July of 1985; the other, a year later in July 1986. This second twin attended the ordination of Dennis Pihach to the diaconate by Metropolitan Theodosius on July 20th, 1986. Dennis Pihach is now Archimandrite Alexander.  The boy’s adult testimony is that he remembers the presence of a Cardinal at a service during his visit: (Close enough).  We are currently seeking any and all photographs of that event [Added Note: we’ve nowfound them.]....
On the whole, Evan Lowig remembers that both visits [a year apart] were ‘on the up and up’ and that no one ever walked about naked. Because of heat in the rectory, both priests might have gone about at times in light robes over shorts. .  Unfortunately, the Synodal Commission seems neither to have tried to find nor to speak with this live-in former priest. He can be reached at [deleted] in Toronto, usually Monday to Friday mornings where he works as a volunteer.
Naturally, if someone is deemed guilty after only talking with the complainants, their mother, and Fr. Kostoff, then there’s no need to actually speak with anyone else who might have been there at that time, including witnesses for the accused.  (Did also make a submission [to the SC]?) Now I think that talking to the chief and only witnesses for the defense is a vital part of the job delegated to the Commission. (Delegated is here a key word, to be thought about by yourself and the Holy Synod.  Nor (another matter) are they an ecclesiastical court nor a substitute for one.) Why hasn’t a single parishioner who worked with Fr. Seraphim or Evan Lowig in Winnipeg during those visits, or any witness for the defence for that matter, been asked to testify before the Synodal Commission? At least none with whom I have spoken ever were.

4 The judge summarized her narrative, as follows: “[T]he accused touched the boys when he was naked.  He jumped between them and touched them.”  In short, she testified that the boys went together, that Father Seraphim was right between them, apparently sexually touching them. I, too, would be hysterically overwrought as a parent if I believed this. And, I am sure that, if I believed this and then told this to others, they would be moved by my frenzy, aroused by my anger, and sympathetic to my plight.
The judge later continued: “Father Kostoff said in her disclosure to him, [that she] did not mention any touching occurring between the accused and the boys.  I know from the evidence that [the twins] were never in Winnipeg together.  [Her] differing versions of the events makes her less reliable.”    

5It was agreed pre-trial that the visits possibly took place in one summer...memory being what it is. (See footnote 6 above). That, on any reading of the evidence, is actually incorrect. (See next footnote.)

6 I haven’t seen any pre-trial proceedings or their record, if they are on record.  In those proceedings it was apparently agreed that the twins travelled sequentially, both visiting in July 1985. This is at odds with one twin attending the ordination of Dennis Pihach to the diaconate in July 1986, as this brother surely never had yet another trip to Winnipeg. It is also at odds with the second twin’s being very uncomfortable at the fact that neighbourhood boys were always dropping into the rectory to watch TV and goof about, something that began only in the  fall of 1985.

7 As the judge put it, “The trip had to have been financed directly or indirectly by the accused.” And later, “I have no doubt he would know which parishioners could be tapped financially to assist church affairs, such as bringing some altar boys to Winnipeg.  For the accused to claim he would have no idea how to pay for such and expense is not believable, given the relatively small size of the congregation.”  This presumes of course that Fr. Seraphim had actually “tapped” someone for monies.

8 That said, his brother has a clear memory of going on that trip while visiting in Winnipeg...albeit he never did. He incorporated his twin’s memory as his own. To explain this oddity—a cross-contamination of memory from their talks together as boys—the trial judge assumed that Fr. Seraphim must have taken him fishing on an outing around London.
This never happened. Both twins testified that, as boys in London, they saw him either at church services or at home.

9 About her testimony, the judge says: “I am cautious about her evidence because she is clearly biased in favor of the accused.  I don't say that critically to say that she was a dishonest witness.  Rather, I have determined her relationship with the accused undermines the reliability of her evidence on material issues in dispute.”(We’ll see how he came to this conclusion later.)

10 Connie was in Geneva for three weeks in July of 1986. She would not have met the second twin if he arrived in July 1986, a year after his brother’s visit. It’s also the case that this second twin was very disturbed by the frequent visits by neighborhood boys, largely to watch television’s Mr. Gadget and to play around, and hang out during the summer—a matter parishioners themselves later got a bit upset about. It is clear on the evidence that these boys only began doing this in the fall of 1985. By 1986, there were more than a few neighborhood boys hanging out.  Thus—and without even considering what Fr. Lowig recalls—this twin’s visit is properly in the summer of 1986. This second twin’s testimony about these neighbourhood kids reads:   Q. And these kids you talked about, for example, would come off the street at all times during the day --  A.  Um-hum.  Q. -- and sometimes at night?  A. Um-hum. {Um-hum = yes .}

11 See footnote 13.

12 As he said in the preliminary hearing: “I believe he was there two days, two to three days throughout my visit. And I'm not sure if he was living there, but when I was there, there was occasions where this individual, man, probably in his forties, thirties, forties, was, was in tenant there.”
Fr. Lowig’s being there most of the time just might have undermined this twin’s allegations that Fr. Seraphim walked about naked much of the time. The same can be said if the teen from North Carolina was there with him most of the time.

13 To be fair, we cannot say that, as a thirty-nine year old adult, this twin honestly doesn’t recall. We can say however  that whatever the reason—including a poor memory---it is very convenient for him to not recall anything that might interfere with the flow of his narrative and nature of the allegations.

14 An age-old adage: “A man is a wolf and not a man to the one who knows nothing of his character” comes to mind when I think this way.

15 What came out at trial, and subsequently treated as ‘factual’ by the judge, was this twin’s allegation that Fr. Seraphim generally walked about “naked” a lot during this childhood visit. The second twin, when first asked, then asked in turn, “Naked?”, before he recalled that he must have walked around naked.  These two allegations—despite all testimonial evidence to the contrary—apparently constitute a ‘fact’ already proven, rather than an assertion needing to be proven before being accepted as a fact. The reality is that, within the rectory, neither priest went about in their usual cassocks. In all probability, neither twin had ever seen priests so “unclothed” before.

16 Genesis 17: 10-14 (New American Bible)

17 Actually, I see no confrontation, no such agreement, no change in his testimony, nor any backing away from his statement at any point.  He had, and still has, a vague memory about how this one discussion started. He thinks it started with a question... and he said clearly that it was logic, not recollection that suggested to him that the question arose during a discussion of Genesis or one of the other books of the Pentateuch.  Logic suggests that possibility. Indeed, it is not just plausible but highly plausible that a discussion about Genesis with teen and pre-teen boys could segue into a broader discussion about puberty when one considers the Covenant of Circumcision. When one considers other matters in the five books, especially what it is to be ritually unclean and how body emissions can make one ritually unclean, then, Genesis and these books could readily be a  point of origin for a broader discussion about puberty. It is somewhat ignorant to talk about these books as books of history without acknowledging what they contain. As for changing his story, he had no recollection of talking about any sexual matters with the second twin. When pressed, he said it was possible but unlikely. Conceding an unlikely possibility in this way does not amount to changing one’s story.

18 Innocents don’t think about possible charges 25 years later.

19 An expression then, and a set of reactions whenever Fr. Seraphim called to try to speak with her, that effectively made him into a bête noire...someone who had done something incredibly wrong whatever that was. For two pre-teen twins, this sense that Fr. Seraphim must have done something terribly wrong—gauging by their mother’s emotional reactions thereafter—would have made very strong impressions, for this is their mother...and she did not want to discuss whatever he did wrong with either of them, her daughter, or with him. The twins would most certainly have discussed her emotional reactions with each other, seeking out just what the wrongdoing was. That Fr. Seraphim was now a cause for their mother’s hysteria about him, a hysteria that made him an unmentionable within her family.  Her influence upon shaping later narratives is something no one appears to have asked  about. But bêtes noires can be formed in the minds of children. You should note again that, according to Fr. Kostoff’s own testimony, she did not, in 1987, mention any kinds of sexual touching between Fr. Seraphim and either of her two boys.
Thereafter, meeting anyone who looked like him could be alarming, prompting fight or flight responses at the sight of such a person. The first twin, as an adult over 20 years later, was so agitated upon encountering  a priest who looked like Fr. Seraphim that his fiancé insisted he get counselling.

20 This, in my odder moments, I call this the Silencing of the Lambs.