The Iasi Court of Appeal ruled final prison sentences against three priests accused of having blackmailed the former bishop of Husi, Corneliu Barladeanu, threatening him to make public compromising video images in which he appeared in intimate situations with a former student at a seminar.
Cristian Jitaru, a former Archimandrite priest at Husi Episcopal Cathedral, got a sentence of 3 years and six months in prison, local News.ro reported. Meanwhile, Gheorghe Damian, a former charity priest at Vaslui County Emergency Hospital, was sentenced to three years in jail, similar to Razvan Bumbu, priest of the Valeni Parish. They also lost the rights to be elected or work as priests for five years.
The National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) sent the three priests to court at the end of June 2017 on blackmailing charges. They apparently claimed jobs or big sums of money in return for keeping hidden some compromising materials about persons in the leadership of the Romanian Orthodox Church. More precisely, DNA said Jitaru threatened to reveal compromising facts about the former bishop of Husi if he is not nominated a vicar bishop while the two other defendants asked for EUR 50,000 to keep the facts a secret.
The compromising images apparently show the former Husi bishop Corneliu Barladeanu having sexual relations with a young man who is believed to have been a student at the Husi Theological Seminary, now a priest in a parish in Vaslui County. Barladeanu denied the accusations but decided to withdraw from the position of bishop of Husi and continue his religious work at the Varatec Monastery in Neamt County.
Local publication Sa Fie Lumina, which does journalistic investigations targeting the religious cults in Romania, published in February an article about a woman, former teacher at the Sf. Ioan Gura de Aur Theological Seminary in Husi, who apparently spoke about the abuses (including sexual abuses) happening at this seminary for years, but no one listened. She told the journalists that the Husi bishop was not the only one abusing the students, other priests teaching there doing the same thing.
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