“These are our files,” says Cappy Larson, opening a desk drawer in the attic of her Haight District home. “Don’t look closely.”
The drawer is stuffed with folders, neatly arranged. Inside, Larson says, are letters from the hundreds of people who have contacted her in the past 10 years claiming they were sexually abused by Orthodox priests. In 1999, Larson, her daughter Greta, and family friend Melanie Sakoda founded the Protection of the Theotokos (“Mother of God”), an organization devoted to exposing sexual abuse in the Orthodox Church. It is a personal matter for them: In 1991, two of Sakoda’s children and one of Cappy Larson’s were allegedly molested by a monk at the Holy Trinity Cathedral. Both Sakoda and the Larsons sued Holy Trinity’s administrative body, the Orthodox Church in America; though the OCA denied any wrongdoing, it paid over $200,000 to settle the case with both families.
Since then, the three women have watchdogged Orthodox parishes and listened to the stories of victims — some of whom will write them for years without revealing their names. Fear of retribution runs deep in the Roman Catholic Church, as the reports on its current sexual abuse scandal bear out. In the older and more conservative Orthodox Church, the fear can run even deeper. “You feel like it’s just you against this big historical thing,” says Greta Larson. “That’s in the Catholic Church, too, but it’s more so in the Orthodox Church. There’s a liberal vein of the Catholic Church, but [the Orthodox Church] is not even close to having that.”
Orthodoxy is not immune to sexual abuse charges, however. The latest case came to light in April, when a defrocked priest named Pangratios Vrionis surrendered to authorities in Queens, N.Y., on charges that he molested a 14-year-old boy.
Source: Un-Orthodox Behavior