St. Pete priest suspected of child molestation (Russia)

St. Petersburg, November 6, Interfax – The Investigations Committee’s Investigations Department for St. Petersburg has opened a criminal case against priest Gleb Grozovsky, who is suspected of child molestation.

A criminal case has been opened and an investigation is underway, the press service for the Investigations Committee’s Investigations Department for St. Petersburg told Interfax.

According to media reports, Grozovsky was until recently the senior priest of the Church of John the Warrior in the village of Maloye Verevo, Gatchina district, and also deputy chairman of the diocese department for youth affairs of the St. Petersburg Diocese. However, he left his posts in mid-October and is now abroad.

According to some media reports, Grozovsky is an adviser to the general director of the St. Petersburg football club Zenit and has worked with the children’s village SOS, which is under the care of prominent footballer Andrey Arshavin.

The press service for the St. Petersburg diocese told Interfax Grozovsky was removed from the permanent staff at his request for the period of the investigation into the criminal case.

“No disciplinary measures have been taken against Gleb Grozovsky. He has been removed from the permanent staff, that is, he has not been defrocked, but he is not currently a clergyman and is not the senior priest of the Church of John the Warrior in the village of Maloye Verevo,” Priest Alexy Volchkov, the head of the press service, said.

Volchkov said the diocese does not know what sort of case has been opened against the priest. “The process began in August, but we have only just learned about it. Apparently, there are a lot of lies and intrigues in this case. Father Gleb chose the wrong advisers and his defense team was bad. We want the investigation to be fair and we want Gleb Grozovsky’s good name to be restored,” Volchkov said.

The press service for the football club Zenit, in turn, said that it is hoping the investigation into Grozovsky’s case will be fair and declined to give any further comments.

“This information is very unexpected and very unpleasant for us. As for Gleb Grozovsky, it’s not a secret that he is a graduate of the St. Petersburg football school and it is not surprising that Zenit players once turned to him as a priest. We are hoping that the investigation will be fair. It’s incorrect to say anything for as long as it is ongoing,” the Zenit press service said, commenting on the situation.

“In any case, all these things have no relation to football and the activities of the football club. There is no position of the team’s confessor on the list of members of its staff. However, we have known Gleb since 2007 and we can only say good things about him,” the press service said.