The Chronicle of Higher Education - July 3, 1997

Greek Orthodox College Fires 3
in Dispute Over Alleged Sexual Harassment by a Priest


The president and two professors at Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology were fired Tuesday for what they say was their refusal to cover up sexual harassment by a priest during a party at the Boston-area institution this year.

In addition, the dean of the theology school resigned Tuesday, after the two fired professors accused him of helping to conceal the incident when he overruled the recommendation of the college's disciplinary committee to expel the priest from the theology school.

The dismissal of the president and the resignation of the dean were announced to faculty members and students in an assembly Tuesday by an assistant to Archbishop Spyridon of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. The two professors said they had been told privately that their contracts would not be renewed.

In a press release announcing the changes, the Archbishop said he had taken action to "bring a positive resolution and conclusion to a series of year-long internal conflicts and difficulties." Telephone calls to the Archbishop's office, in New York City, were not returned Wednesday.

The Rev. Emmanuel Clapsis, one of the two professors who were fired, said in an interview Wednesday that he had not been given any reason for his dismissal.

But Father Clapsis, president of the college's disciplinary committee, speculated that the firings had stemmed from his panel's investigation of what committee members termed a "sexual assault." The other professor fired, the Rev. Theodore Stylianopoulos, also was a member of the disciplinary committee. Father Stylianopoulos did not return a telephone call Wednesday.

In February, about 15 students held a party at which some people drank excessive amounts of alcohol, Father Clapsis said. A priest at the party approached a student and "made improper gestures of a sexual nature," Father Clapsis said, quoting students who were there. When the student asked the priest to leave him alone, the priest approached him again, and the student punched him in the right eye. After an investigation, the disciplinary panel recommended in March that President Alkiviadis Calivas expel the priest, place another priest who was drunk on probation, and give letters of reprimand to all the students at the party who had agreed to keep the incident a secret.

The students appealed to the dean of the theology school, the Rev. George Dragas, who resigned Tuesday. Last month, after the priest involved in the sexual harassment had graduated from the theology school and left for Greece to work on his doctorate, Father Dragas overruled the disciplinary committee's recommendations, citing "a lack of eyewitnesses and faculty verification," Father Clapsis said. The disciplinary committee met again June 20 and unanimously voted to ask the president to ignore Father Dragas's report, Father Clapsis said.

"It looks like that decision led to the dismissals," he said Wednesday. Father Calivas, the college's president, refused to comment Wednesday, saying only that the dismissals had been in violation of the institution's bylaws.

[ The Chronicle of Higher Education - July 3, 1997 - p. _ ]