Former Larnaca Bishop Chrysostomos on Monday was found guilty of sexually assaulting a teenage girl in a historic case dating back 42 years.
The high-ranking priest was found guilty after a year-long trial, which ended with the Larnaca District Court finding the testimony of the now 58-year-old victim and the defence witnesses credible.
As the Larnaca court announced the verdict, activists in the courtroom erupted in lengthy applause, with some shouting at the defendant that he should be ashamed of his actions.
On May 26, the judge will weigh mitigating factors before pronouncing his sentence.
The woman pressed charges in 2021, 40 years after the alleged incident when she had visited the bishop seeking financial help after losing her father in 1981.
In her testimony, she had told the Court that the bishop had told her to sit on a maroon sofa, where he touched her hands.
According to the woman’s testimony, the bishop later asked her to return for the promised money.
She had visited Chrysostomos five times, and he kept telling her to come back as the money was not ready.
On the fifth visit, the bishop hugged her as he led her upstairs to his office. The bishop locked the door and offered the woman a drink when they entered.
When she refused, he pushed her back on the couch and tried to kiss her.
The woman told the bishop to let her go, but he refused, putting his hand to her mouth and grabbing her leg.
The plaintiff said she was in a state of panic all the way home, and her mother had called a doctor who injected her with a tranquillizer.
In its decision, the Court said the time that had passed until the complainant made “does not override the fact”, noting that “the complainant invoked serious reasons”.
The Court argued that the defendant “was a high-ranking priest, subject to the rules of the high priesthood.
“How was it possible for a 16-year-old to denounce a high priest? Even today, it is a scandal, let alone then”.
This is the second time Chrysostomos has appeared before a court on sexual assault charges.
In a separate rape case, another woman alleged that Chrysostomos offered her an alcoholic beverage before proceeding to rape her.
Chrysostomos refused to take the stand, handing in an unsworn statement denying the rape, while his lawyers claimed he was not mentally fit to stand trial.
The Larnaca Criminal Court acquitted him of rape in October 2021 after accusing the victim of making contradictory statements.