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Woodside Greek priest pleads guilty in sex case

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A defrocked Greek Orthodox priest who runs his own splinter church in Woodside pleaded guilty last week to charges he sexually molested a 14-year-old boy in his parish four years ago, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

James Vrionis, 59, of 44-02 48th Ave., pleaded guilty May 14 to misdemeanor charges of sex abuse and attempted sex abuse before Queens Criminal Court Judge Steven Paynter, Brown said.

"His conduct not only betrayed his priestly calling but also inflicted deep psychological harm upon his young victim," Brown said in a statement. "The defendant's plea of guilty provides the certainty of a criminal conviction and his permanent registration and Internet posting as a dangerous sexual offender, which will protect the safety of other children."

Vrionis had been defrocked by the Greek Orthodox Church in December 1970 after pleading guilty to charges he sodomized two teenage boys in Pennsylvania, church officials said.

But he still identifies himself as an archbishop and heads his own church in Woodside, the Sts. Fanourios and Gerasimos Cathedral - which leaders of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America said is not affiliated with their organization.

"Since [he was defrocked] he has had no relationship, direct or otherwise, with us," said the archdiocese's assistant chancellor, Father Michael Kontogiorgis, soon after charges were filed against Vrionis last year. "We have no relationship with that church."

Paynter sentenced Vrionis to a year of probation - including 12 months of counseling - and ordered him to register as a sex offender under Megan's Law, Brown said.

Vrionis will have to report his address every 90 days to authorities, who will disseminate his photograph and criminal status to schools.

Vrionis admitted to sexually attacking the 14-year-old boy in February 1999 when he was tutoring him in the Greek language inside his residence at 44-02 48th Ave., Brown said.

Vrionis played a pornographic video of men having sex while touching the boy sexually and masturbating in front of him, Brown said.

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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