Former high-ranking Orthodox priest faces sentencing hearing for sex assault

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WINNIPEG - A former high-ranking Orthodox priest convicted of sexually assaulting an altar boy in Winnipeg faces a sentencing hearing today.

Seraphim Kenneth Storheim was found guilty earlier this year of assaulting a boy who lived and worked with him in 1985.

At the time, Storheim was a priest for the Orthodox Church in America, and he would later rise to become archbishop — the church's top cleric in Canada.

The former altar boy, now in his 30s, testified Storheim made him fondle him and that the cleric inappropriately touched the boy as well.

Storheim's lawyer has indicated he may ask that Storheim be spared jail time, in part because the cleric has no criminal record.

There is no word yet on what sentence the Crown will seek.

Storheim was charged with sexually assaulting another boy as well, but that witness's testimony was often contradictory and Storheim was found not guilty on that count.

Storheim, now 68, denied any inappropriate touching when he testified. He told court he was telling the boy about puberty based on some Biblical teachings.

The judge rejected Storheim's version of events.

"I do not believe the testimony of the accused,'' Court of Queen's Bench Justice Christopher Mainella said in January.

"The accused was not credible about his behaviour. He ... provided nonsensical answers and was not consistent in his version of events."

Storheim was arrested in 2010 after the former altar boys went to police with their complaints. He was placed on leave.

The Orthodox Church in America has 700 parishes, missions and other institutions across North America. It is separate from other churches such as the Greek Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The church's website says Storheim was retired shortly after his conviction.

Organizations: Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Queen's

Geographic location: WINNIPEG, America, Canada North America

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