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Published: Saturday, 5/1/2004

Former pastor reportedly facing church tribunal

BY DAVID YONKE
BLADE RELIGION EDITOR

The former pastor of St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church in Sylvania who in 1977 was ousted from the denomination is reportedly facing a tribunal in the Greek Orthodox Church over allegations that he molested three boys in Toledo in the 1970s.

The Rev. Gabriel Barrow, 58, of Houston was suspended in January, 2004, as pastor of St. John the Theologian Greek Orthodox Church in Webster, Texas, after the Toledo allegations surfaced, according to David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

The priest had been scheduled to face a Greek Orthodox tribunal on Monday but was too ill to travel, Mr. Clohessy said. Father Barrow, pastor of St. Elias from 1972 to 1977, was released abruptly from the Antiochian Orthodox Church on Oct. 10, 1977.

Metropolitan Philip, head of the 450,000-member U.S. denomination, said in a letter to the St. Elias parish council at the time that Father Barrow had been removed "for reasons beyond my control." He gave no further explanation.

Neither he nor any of his staff at the archdiocese's Englewood, N.J., headquarters returned calls yesterday seeking comment.

After leaving Toledo, Father Barrow returned to his hometown of Houston and eventually resurfaced as a Greek Orthodox priest in Webster. It is unclear how he switched affiliations.

The priest also works for the Houston Independent School District, where he is employed as an instructional supervisor.

Terry Abbott, a press secretary for the district, said in a statement that after investigating allegations against the priest, "the district failed to determine any basis for the legal termination of Mr. Barrow's employment."

The school district explained that the allegations are nearly three decades old, no criminal charges were filed, and no allegations of improper conduct had been reported against Father Barrow during his 25 years with the school system.

A person who answered the phone yesterday at Father Barrow's listed Houston address said the priest was and unavailable for comment.

A former Detroiter who said he was 16 when Father Barrow molested him in Toledo in 1975 told The Blade yesterday that he and his mother went to the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese headquarters in New Jersey in 1998 to report his allegations and to demand that Father Barrow be removed from ministry. The Blade does not identify victims of sexual abuse.

The victim said Bishop Antoun Khouri told him that Father Barrow had been removed from the Antiochian denomination for molesting boys and that he was no longer under the church's authority.

Contact David Yonke at:

dyonke@theblade.com

or 419-724-6154.


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