This is the first of a three part series looking into a court case that relates to Archbishop Arseny (1866-1945), who is being considered for canonizatiion as an Orthodox saint by the Orthodox Church in America (OCA).
Those wanting a bit of a biography may check out the OrthodoxWiki entry for him.
Basically, in a nutshell, +Arseny had served as a married priest in Russia until his wife died. In 1902, he came to America and served under St. Tikhon. He was instrumental in founding St. Tikhon’s monastery and the accompanying orphanage. Late in 1908, he was sent to Canada to administer the parishes there. In 1910, he returned to Russia and in 1920, was in a Serbian monastery when some Canadians asked that he return to serve them. In 1926, he was consecrated as the Bishop to Canada. He died in 1945 and is buried at St. Tikhon’s monastery.
At the time of the court case I am about to discuss, Arseny was an Archimandrite in charge of the newly formed St. Tikhon’s Monastery. In June of 1908, Svoboda, a Greek Catholic (Uniate) paper published an article in which the author claimed Archbishop Arseny sexually forced himself upon one Mary Krinitsky on a buggy ride in the middle of the night. She had gone to a dedication of a cemetery near Simpson, PA, but missed her train back home. He offered her a ride and allegedly forced himself upon her after treating her nicely. Allegedly, this was the first occurrence, because after nearly a year later, she gave birth to a son. On the basis of an affidavit signed by Mary Krinitsky herself, Svoboda claimed Archbishop Arseny (whose last name is rendered as Chagovtsov, Chagovets, and/or Chahovtsov in the documents) fathered the child. Archimandrite Arseny filed two libel suits against the paper–one in civil court and the other in criminal court.
These cases and their larger context deserve further exploration. The OCA has a canonization committee established for looking into the life of Archbishop Arseny.
Fr. John Hainsworth has written a life of Archbishop Arseny on behalf of the canonization committee. In an early online version, he provided this intriguing reference:
“Little is known of his first assignments when he arrived except that by his own recollection he worked in parishes in Troy, Mayfield, and Simpson in the Eastern United States. Curiously, his work with the returning Uniats is not mentioned in any of the memorial articles and accounts of his life, even though it was substantial enough to incur a case of libel against him by Uniats frustrated by his success.”
That version is no longer online. His current version omits this.
The Orthodox Wiki page (which borrows directly from Fr. John’s piece) also omits this. I was unable to find any other online or published discussion of this anywhere else. I had originally asked a member of the committee several times over for a copy of any court transcripts and emailed another member about the case as well, but after waiting about a year, I took it upon myself to track down the criminal case. Independently, I obtained a microfilm of the criminal court case that began in January of 1909. I intend to digitize this transcript and place it on SOCHA’s website so that it is readily available to all without delay.
I assure forthright discussion on my end. Although I won’t be sharing news each step of the way as I continue my research, I do want to share with you what I have gleaned from this first transcript. I also want to inform you that I will make this court transcript available on SOCHA’s website in the near future because the interest in this case has been a collective one between those of us on the executive board of SOCHA. You will see nothing but transparency from me, not to mention SOCHA, in this matter. Even if you disagree with my interpretation, I hope you will at least be thankful that you had an opportunity to examine the sources and so disagree!
In the next post, I will provide a general interpretation of what I have in the transcript. In the third post, I’ll simply provide a few mildly amusing quotes from the transcript, to lighten the mood a bit. If I deem it appropriate, I may post a fourth piece, as an addendum, clarifying or correcting as is necessary.
Fr. Oliver Herbel, Executive Director
[This post is cross-posted on http://frontierorthodoxy.wordpress.com]