Father Leslie and St Gerasimos parish in Leichhardt respond to embezzlement allegations

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Father Leslie Kostoglou and the St Gerasimos Greek Orthodox Parish in Leichhardt, Sydney, have issued a joint statement in response to recent allegations by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia (GOAA) that the priest “embezzled” funds from the parish’s treasury.

The GOAA placed Father Leslie on “ecclesiastical suspension” in May this year. At the time, the Archdiocese said the ecclesiastical suspension would be reviewed once Father Leslie “returns to the treasury of the Parish of St Gerasimos in Sydney, the money he has embezzled or there is a relevant settlement with the Board of Directors of the Parish.”

In the recent statement, Father Leslie apologised “to the President, the members of the Board of Directors, and all the faithful parishioners of the parish of Saint Gerasimos, for my behaviour which culminated in the scandal that I caused to our Church.”

Father Leslie also acknowledged “the financial discrepancies and damage for which I am responsible, as demonstrated by two independent audits.”

For their part, the Parish thanked Father Leslie for his service over 20 years and said the appointment of new priest Father Panteleimon is an opportunity for a “new beginning.”

Allegations Father Leslie misappropriated funds first came after The Greek Herald reported that the Parish committee were considering a proposal earlier this year to move Father Leslie to St Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church at St Marys.

Parishioners at St Gerasimos launched a petition at the time, calling on the committee “to reconsider” their proposal to move Father Leslie.

Following the latest statement, the GOAA have not made a public announcement about the issue and are yet to confirm whether the ecclesiastical suspension of Father Leslie has been lifted. According to a Facebook post by St Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church at St Marys, Father Leslie conducted a Divine Liturgy at the parish on Sunday, August 6.

Full Communique:

The joint statement by Father Leslie Kostoglou and the St Gerasimos Greek Orthodox Parish in Leichhardt, Sydney.

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