Important Fact: On the evening of March 12, 2010, Metropolitan Jonah publicly apologized to the Koumentakoses and to the priests and parishioners of the Orthodox Church of St. Matthew.
See Facts and Myths Section: Below
Many of the parishioners of the Orthodox Church of Saint Matthew have been patiently waiting for the Koumentakos affair to end. We have been sitting quietly while various websites post inaccurate, incomplete, or distorted information about our beloved priest of twenty-one years, Father Raymond Velencia. However, the gossip and defamation have reached the point where concrete harm is coming to Fr. Ray personally and professionally. Our parish and all the hard work that we have provided to build a strong, vibrant, growing Christian community have also been affected.
This website represents the wish of parishioners of the Orthodox Church of St. Matthew in Columbia, Maryland to reveal the truth about the allegations made against Fr. Raymond Velencia on the internet by former parishioners, Kristine Patico Koumentakos (KPK) and her husband Nicholas Koumentakos. Mrs. Koumentakos has been attacking Fr. Ray for what we believe to be retaliation for dismissal from employment at St. Matthew House (SMH), Maryland of which Fr. Ray is the President of the Board of Directors.
SMH is a non-profit corporation organized under the laws of the State of Maryland and qualified as a non-profit corporation under §501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. It is an independent-living housing facility for handicapped adults. SMH receives funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Mrs. Koumentakos was dismissed in February of 2006. Her dismissal was reviewed by the members of the SMH Board of Directors at a special board meeting convened on March 2, 2006, after a review of SMH official corporate documents. After discussion, which included arguments both for and against the dismissal, Mrs. Koumentakos’ dismissal was not overturned. The reasons for her dismissal, i.e. excessive absenteeism, insubordination, falsified timesheets, and other irregularities, was upheld.
Now is the time for our voices to be heard!
To the left you will find links to documents obtained through public records:
1. The SMH minutes for the emergency board of directors meeting held on 2 March 2006.
2. The conclusions of an exhaustive OCA investigation conducted by Fr. Alexey Karlgut, which included interviews from both sides, and the Howard County, Maryland, Office of Human Relations (OHR) Report, finding:
Fr. Ray Velencia innocent of all church-related charges.
- That Mrs. Koumentakos “has disclosed personal information about her history”… “to many individuals and co-workers in a course of conversations with them.”
- Fr. Alexey noted that Mrs. Koumentakos chose “not to provide the investigation with the names of witnesses that would substantiate her allegations…”
- Fr. Alexey also noted that “no parishioner or congregant of the parish came forth to corroborate the complainant’s allegations.”
3. The e-mail comments sent by Fr. Duane Johnson, our assistant priest, to Mark Stokoe at ocanews.org and Mr. Stokoe's original reply, which the latter posted.
Fr. Duane's second e-mail post where he emphatically maintains that Mrs. Koumentakos never received the sacrament of confession from either Fr. Raymond Velencia or himself.
5. An e-mail from Mrs. Koumentakos to Metropolitan Herman, and forwarded to Fr. Ray by Fr. Garklavs. This email shows the cc list of people Mrs. Koumentakos included in her correspondence. Please note that she included OCAnews.org blogger Mr. Mark Stokoe in her e-mail to Metropolitan Herman. Fr. Ray's defense letter to the Metropolitan was sent to only the people Mrs. Koumentakos chose to include in the debate.
6. Selected documents from the public court records concerning the contentious divorce of Nicholas and Kristine Koumentakos (they later remarried). These were part of a public record available long before any communication made in self-defense by Fr. Ray to the Metropolitan.
- Accusations in Mrs. Koumentakos’ documents that Mr. Koumentakos “throughout the marriage has been verbally abusive and has used physical violence upon the plaintiff, Kristine Patico Koumentakos.”
- Accusations by Mr. Koumentakos that Mrs. Koumentakos is “ not a fit and proper person to have custody of the minor child”.
- In another document Mr. Koumentakos describes Mrs. Koumentakos’ “history of psychiatric problems and treatment…” relating that “she continues to be “deemed disabled and is drawing Social Security benefits while living with her parents.”
- January 28, 2010: In the New York State Deanery Letter of January 28, 2010, Fr. Alexey Karlgut made a statement concerning the approximate 700 pages of testimony, witness statements and other documents in the OCA internal investigation of the allegations of Kristine and Nick Koumentakos. He also comments on the Howard County, Maryland court decision relating to the 1st 20 of the 22 counts relating to the case. This document was found on the internet. Fr. Karlgut's statement is found in paragraph 7 and has been highlighted.
Myths and Facts:
Myth: OCANews.org and Pokrov.org print the facts and only the facts.
Fact: You decide for yourself after reading the rest.
Myth: Fr. Raymond Velencia wanted to use St. Matthew Housing Development, Inc. building as collateral for the loan to build the Orthodox Church of St. Matthew’s church building.
Fact: Howard Bank suggested to use the building of St. Matthew Housing Development as collateral for the loan it was giving the church. Ben Etheridge of the SMH board of directors researched the idea. He found that it could not be done and the idea was not persued.
Myth: That Fr. Raymond Velencia revealed confidences learned in confession.
Fact: Mrs. Koumentakos never received the sacrament of confession from Fr. Raymond Velencia.
Fact: Mrs. Koumentakos met with parishioners and discussed her problems with them. While serving as executive director at St. Matthew House, she also, very inappropriately for a supervisor, discussed her problems and history with a subordinate.
Myth: Fr. Raymond Velencia did not cooperate with the investigation by the Office of Human Rights in Maryland into the allegations of discrimination brought by fired employee Mrs. Koumentakos.
Fact: The lawyers defending the St. Matthew Housing Development, Inc. against the charges of discrimination attempted to have the case dismissed on jurisdictional grounds, specifically, that the Office of Human Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission did not have jurisdiction over this matter because the employer did not have enough employees to bring the matter under the purview of either the state or federal employment discrimination laws. The investigators, therefore, made their decision without any documentation from the employer, i.e. the corporation, not Fr. Raymond Velencia.
Myth: Mrs. Koumentakos won her case at the Office of Human Rights in Maryland on her allegations of employment discrimination because OHR found there was reasonable cause to believe discrimination occurred.
Fact: The Office of Human Rights is charged with determining whether or not a complainant may proceed to trial. If the Office finds there to be probable cause that there is enough evidence to support the allegations, it will normally file the case itself. However, if it only finds that there is reasonable cause, the complainant must pursue the claim herself. The regulations state: “A determination finding reasonable cause is based on, and limited to, evidence obtained by the Commission and does not reflect any judgment on the merits of allegations not addressed in the determination.” OHR did not receive any evidence from the employer, therefore, it based its conclusion on the allegations themselves and found that there is a reasonable possibility that discrimination occurred and the complainant could proceed to court. The issue has yet to be litigated.
Myth: Father Raymond Velencia, individually, is a defendant in the case and needs to settle with the Koumentakoses.
Fact: Father Raymond Velencia was never named as a defendant in the law suit in his personal capacity. He was sued in his capacity as the priest of the Orthodox Church of St. Matthew, and as servant and agent of the Orthodox Church in America. But, when the court dismissed 20 of the 22 counts in the lawsuit, the judge made a point to dismiss, with prejudice, any possible counts that could be brought in any future amended complaints against Fr. Raymond in his personal capacity. He was also dismissed in his capacity as a priest, again with prejudice. “With prejudice” means that no new lawsuits can be brought by the plaintiffs against the defendants. Any settlement would be by all the defendants and paid for by one of the insurance companies. Fr. Raymond Velencia would only be a signatory to the settlement as the representative of some of those defendants, namely the Orthodox Church of St. Matthew and the St. Matthew Housing Development, Inc.
Myth: A settlement indicates that the defendants are guilty.
Fact: Insurance companies paying for the defense of their clients very often decide to settle matters in order to avoid further legal fees and expenses of the lawyers they hire to provide the defense as long as the plaintiffs are willing to lower their monetary demand to a reasonable figure. Settlement agreements in civil suits are never about guilt. They are always about money.
Myth: That Mrs. Koumentakos proved in court that she could not have made the threatening call that was the subject of the peace order proceedings.
Fact: The judge did not grant Fr. Raymond Velencia’s request for a peace order, which would have mandated that Mrs. Koumentakos stay away from the Velencia family, because according to Maryland law a telephone call does not meet the standard of placing one in “eminent” danger of serious bodily harm. One needs to be in the physical presence of the threatening party for it to be “eminent.” However, the transcript in the public record shows that the judge advised both parties to stay as far away from each other as possible, including telephone calls. The judge indicated that she could not issue the order because the statute did not give her authority to do so.
Myth: That Metropolitan Jonah and Fr. Alexander Garklavs met with Fr. Raymond Velencia and the parishioners of the Orthodox Church of St. Matthew “in a pastoral effort to deal with the toxic environment.”
Fact: The parishiorers of the Orthodox Church of St. Matthew requested that Metropolitan Jonah meet with them in order to explain why he removed Fr. Raymond from the Metropolitan Council; to find out why it was done so tactlessly (for which the Metropolitan apologized), and to plead its case to have Fr. Raymond reinstated. There was no toxic environment that required any pastoral efforts because everyone at the Orthodox Church of St. Matthew prays for God to bless Mr. and Mrs. Koumentakos and their children. No one wishes her any harm. Everyone just wants this case to end so that we can all move on with our lives and the wonderful and awesome life of our church, which continues to grow despite all the efforts of ocanews.org and pokrov.org to defrock our beloved priest.
Myth: That the theme of the Metroplitan's retreat, Three Foundations of Orthodox Sprituality: Reaction, Resentment, and Inner Stillness, is unique to the Orthodox Church of St. Matthew.
Fact: The Metropolitan has been giving the same speech around the country and it is available on: http://www.stots.edu/news_100223_2.html
Myth: On March 05, 2010: Metropolitan issued a statement in apology to Mrs. Koumentakos and blamed Fr. Karlgut and Fr. Ray for the dispute.
Fact: On the evening of Friday, March 12, 2010, as a prelude to the retreat he was leading at the Orthodox Church of St. Matthew, Metropolitan Jonah addressed the assembled audience and publicly apologized to the plaintiffs and to the priests and parishioners of the Orthodox Church of St. Matthew. He said that the plaintiffs' case should never have been allowed to reach the stage of civil court litigation, and the fact that it did represented a failure on the part of the OCA Chancery.
Fact: On Monday, March 15, 2010 Bishop Tikhon made this statement in Yahoo Groups Orthodox Jurisdictions Blog:
Finally, coming to the matter which started this cancerous thread, the "apology" of Metropolitah Jonah: here it is IN ITS ENTIRETY
"I apologize, on behalf of the Orthodox Church in America, to Kristine Koumentakos and to her family, for the lack of pastoral attentiveness and sensitivity to the matters at hand. "
Not exactly a rending of garments, no? Note: he apologized on behalf of an entity, a corporate entity, for its having lacked pastoral good qualities.
FAR be it from me to claim that this "apology" was pro forma or "how we can be seen to be apologizing without really apologizing for anything substantive or substantial or validating ANY of the claims made against ANYONE in recently concluded court matters". No, Nor would I claim that the Metropolitan was really saying, "Oh, I'm sorry we won." No, the Metropolitan has first-class legal advice and first-class legal advisors…
+Tikhon, a retired (but not former) OCA Bishop
Fact: On March 13, 2010, Mrs. Koumentakos made a post on the Yahoo Groups Orthodox Forum. In her post she says that it doesn’t matter how Father Ray got her information, he still shouldn’t have repeated it. She also admits to revealing her private information to a “small group of supporters.”
No one at the Orthodox Church of St. Matthew ever wished you harm. We did not start this matter, you did, which is what the judge told you when he denied your motion to have the records sealed. You filed the documents; you have to live with the consequences. It does indeed matter that Father Ray did not receive your Sacramental Confession because it means he did not break the seal of confession and discussions of defrocking him are now moot. It does indeed matter that you revealed your personal information to a small group of people other than Father Ray. You and your family also revealed the details of your divorce to a great many parishioners at St. Matthew. The details of your personal life were not confidential, much less confessional. You should not expect to give your information to parishioners and co-workers and not have it repeated. Father Ray was not the source of the dissemination of your information. You and your family were.
Because of your continued allegations and threat to sue the OCA, Father Ray was directed by the Chancery to send his private letter of defense, written to Metropolitan Herman, to the people you copied on your October 24, 2007 correspondence to Metropolitan Herman. Even doctors and lawyers are allowed to reveal privileged patient/client information if their integrity is attacked. You attacked Father Ray’s integrity. He had every right to defend himself by revealing the character of the person making the accusations. It was your lawyers who decided to make Father Ray’s letter a matter of public record and it was your choice to include the editor of OCAnews.org on your correspondence to Metropolitan Herman, which led to the editor receiving the reply as well.
There is no need for the Synod of Bishops to fight your battles for you (battles you began); especially now that you have de facto admitted that Father Ray did not learn of your past during confession. All you need to do to get your personal information concerning your divorce removed from our website is to get all of the derogatory information about Father Ray removed from the internet. You started this mess; you exacerbated it; you have all the power you need to finish it.
We wish you and your family well,
The committee of The Truth in Columbia Maryland