Charity founder, seven staff members charged in child abuse case

Charity founder, seven staff members charged in child abuse case

The founder and former head of children’s charity “Kivotos tou Kosmou” (Ark of the World), Father Antonios Papanikolaou, on Friday was formally charged with sexual abuse of minors.

The criminal charges relate to actions that took place from September 2020 to January 2022, and include sexual acts against two underage boys, now aged 19 and 15. 

Another seven former staff members – working at the Athens, Volos, and Chios facilities of the organization – are being prosecuted for misdemeanors including physical abuse of children from April 2018 to August 2022, with the priest being legally considered the instigator.

The two case files will proceed separately. Father Antonios is expected to be summoned for testimony before an investigating magistrate.

Investigations on the case began in November 2022, and the above suspects were summoned to testify in December 2022. Other investigations are also being carried out involving other Kivotos staff and children. They include an investigation into the finances of the NGO, the priest, his wife, and another nine individuals, to determine whether there was tax evasion and money laundering.

The founder of the NGO, which is now overseen by an interim board, has denied all charges claiming it is a setup.

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