(RT) – A Russian priest, father of four, has been found guilty of sexually abusing underage girls at Orthodox summer camps in Russia and Greece. He was sentenced to 14 years in a maximum security prison.
A court in the Leningrad region found Gleb Grozovsky, 38, guilty of molesting three underage girls. It has been reported that the court included the time he has already served since his arrest in 2014 in the sentence. In addition to his jail term, the priest will also have to pay each victim 400,000 rubles ($7,000) in moral damages.
An investigation found that Grozovsky had sexually abused a girl who was under 14 in 2011 at an Orthodox summer camp in Leningrad region. In 2013, he abused two girls in another Orthodox summer camp in Greece, the probe discovered.
Following the accusations, Grozovsky fled Russia in autumn 2013 and was charged in absentia. He was suspended from church service following the probe that year. Moscow also issued an international search warrant for him. The priest was finally detained in Israel, which extradited him to Russia in 2016.
Grozovsky has denied any wrongdoing, claiming that the incidents had never occurred. “I understand the sentence and will file an appeal. This is not the end, you will see the situation change,” he said, responding to the court’s decision. He has 10 days to file an appeal.
The priest has already spoken of his plans in the event of his appeal being rejected. He revealed that he would write a book while in jail. “God helps those people to go through difficulties, whom he loves and chooses. Only those who were behind bars wrote normal books,” he said.
The Russian Orthodox Church refused to comment on the court verdict until the sentence comes into force. The diocese of Gatchina in Leningrad region where Grozovsky served will not defrock him at this stage, as he has yet to file an appeal.