Moscow, September 27, Interfax - Russian Orthodox Church spokesperson Vladimir Legoyda has described media attempts to present Ural priest Nikolay Stremsky as undoubtedly guilty as premature.
"So why, when it comes to the participants in the unsanctioned rallies, they're definitely innocent and must be released at once, without court and trial so to say? But if a priest is suspected, then he immediately becomes a 'pedophile priest', before court, before the court ruling," Legoyda wrote on Telegram.
Legoyda said that he is "all for" people being released or their sentence mitigated and that he believes the priest should be punished if found guilty. "But it is up to the court, not the media space, to pronounce him guilty. Until then, no one can label anyone a criminal, only a defendant or a suspect. Otherwise it doesn't look good, ladies and gentlemen! It's quite a liberal value, you see, the presumption of innocence," he said.
Archpriest Nikolay Stremsky, the father superior in charge of the monastery and charitable organization in the Saraktash village, Orenburg Region, was recently charged with rape, sexual abuse, and failure to fulfill obligations in the upbringing of a minor. He was placed under arrest until November 12.
According to the investigators, Stremsky "repeatedly molested six underage foster and adopted children and raped one of them" in the time period of January-August 2018.
Stremsky denied any wrongdoing, saying that the children's testimonies are false.
Metropolitan Veniamin of Orenburg and Saraktash issued a decree banning the priest from administering religious rites for the duration of the investigation.