Former bishop to be sentenced on June 1

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Former Larnaca Bishop Chrysostomos will be sentenced on June 1 after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a teenage girl in a historic case dating 42 years.

The Larnaca District Court, following a hearing for mitigating his sentence, said it would deliver its decision on June 1 after examining the defence’s arguments.

The former bishop and members of the network against violence towards women were present at Friday’s hearing.

Bishop Chrysostomos’ lawyers submitted evidence to the Court to have the sentence reduced, including documents of the bishop’s volunteer work and health records.

The defence argued that the high-ranking cleric is at an advanced age, almost 85, making it difficult for him to go to prison.

They requested that the sentence be suspended if a prison sentence is delivered.

On May 15, the former bishop was found guilty of assaulting a teenage girl, aged 16 in 1981, in a historic decision.

This is the first time a high-ranking cleric has been found guilty of a sex crime.

He 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.

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 its decision, the Court said the time that had passed until the complaint was made does not override its severity.

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.

Meanwhile, more women have come forward with complaints of sexual misconduct against the cleric.

According to the media, two are ready to come forward besides the six women who have already filed complaints against him.

Following the historic case, the Holy Synod must decide how it will handle the convicted cleric.

The Synod has three options and will probably decide after sentencing.

One option is to defrock the former bishop, prohibit him from conducting church services and preaching, or confine him to a monastery.

The Holy Synod is set to convene on June 13.