Former bishop appeals sexual harassment conviction

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Former Larnaca Bishop Chrysostomos will appeal his 12-month jail term suspended for three years after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a teenage girl in a historic case.

The cleric’s lawyer, Yiannis Polychronis, told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that he received instructions from his client to file an appeal claiming he did not receive a fair trial.

The appeal will include 12 reasons, with the main one cited being “the right to a fair trial”, suggesting it was violated due to the long time that elapsed since the incident 42 years ago.

Polychronis noted that the recent conviction of indecent assault related to a case from 1981, but charges were not brought by the complainant until 2021.

The appeal is expected to cite that the defendant could not call essential witnesses because some had died or had health issues due to the passage of time.

Earlier this month, the former bishop was handed a 12-month suspended sentence, the first time a senior Cyprus Church cleric was convicted 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 was 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.

The Larnaca Criminal Court acquitted him of rape in October 2021 after accusing the victim of making contradictory statements.

At least six more women have come forward with complaints of sexual misconduct against the cleric.

Meanwhile, the Holy Synod will meet on Tuesday amid demands that the former bishop be defrocked.

Some reports have suggested he may only be demoted.

However, the filing of an appeal against the sentence could give the Synod grounds to postpone any decision until the Supreme Court addresses it.