Please be informed that I have been retained by Ashley and Diane Nevins of Modesto, California. They are the bereaved parents of Scott Nevins, who died by suicide on June 11, 2012, at St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery in Florence, Arizona.
The death of the Nevins’ only son can be directly attributed to the more than six years of horrific physical and psychological abuse he endured at St. Anthony’s. The methodology used by the monastery’s leadership, Archimandrites Ephraim and Paisios, fits every criterion used by the mental health community to identify a group which engages in the destructive practice of thought reform. Such a group is known in the vernacular as a cult. Scott sustained severe emotional trauma as a direct result of the Archimandrites Ephraim and Paisios’s coercive tactics and practices, and the harm continued to affect Scott Nevins after he fled from St. Anthony’s Monastery in February of 2011.
Scott Nevins’ death could have been prevented had either Metropolitan Gerasimos or Archbishop Demetrios responded to the Nevins’ pleas to remove Scott from the monastery and provide him with the help necessary to recover from the destructive practices he encountered at St. Anthony’s. Despite being warned repeatedly by Ashley and Diane that their healthy, normal, teenage son began to exhibit alarming signs of mental and physical deterioration soon after entering the monastery, these two bishops sat by and did nothing while Scott continued to be subjected to physical and psychological abuses that ultimately led to his wrongful death.
Metropolitan Gerasimos’ failure to act is particularly disturbing because he has an advanced degree in psychology and experience as a counselor. The Metropolitan should have recognized that Scott needed immediate intervention to prevent the disastrous outcome of a wrongful death which ultimately occurred. The Metropolitan rejected the concerns of the Nevins and did not believe them as parents. Admissions by the Archbishop to the Nevins also raise many troubling concerns about his awareness of the issues at St. Anthony’s Monastery and with Archimandrite Ephraim.
I have had an opportunity to review this matter in some detail and conduct a preliminary investigation. As a result, I have concluded that the Nevins have viable claims against the Archimandrite Ephraim, Archimandrite Paisios, Metropolitan Gerasimos. St. Anthony’s Monastery, the San Francisco Metropolis, and the Archdiocese of New York for intentional infliction of emotional di stress, wrongful death, and negligence, among others.
I am writing you today to resolve this dispute in an amicable manner before both sides incur considerable litigation costs and fees. If negotiations fail, however, we are prepared to file suit immediately.
The tort of intentional infliction of emotional di stress was created to punish conduct “exceeding all bounds usually tolerated by a decent society, of a nature which especially calculated to cause, and does cause, mental distress.” (Agarwal v. Johnson (1979) 25 Cal.3d 932, 946.) A prima facie case requires: (I) Outrageous conduct by the defendant: (2) an intention by the defendant to cause, or acting with reckless disregard of the probability of causing. Emotional distress; (3) severe emotional distress; and (4) an actual and proximate causation of emotional distress. (Nally v. Grace Community Church (1988) 47 Cal.3d 278, 300). Based upon the facts set forth, which document the gradual deterioration of Scott’s mental, spiritual and physical well-being, we believe Ashley and Diane Nevins will be able to prove that the conduct of the monastery, diocese and archdiocese will satisfy these elements.
Many important facts in my investigation are enclosed with this letter as Attachment 1 for your examination. In addition, I have also included my evaluation of the Monastery’s regular practices under the eight criteria for a group which engages in destructive thought reform. This evaluation is enclosed as Attachment 2. In light of this documentation, it should be apparent that the Archimandrites Ephraim and Paisios, Metropolitan Gerasimos. St. Anthony’s Monastery, the San Francisco Diocese, and the New York Archdiocese all contributed to the wrongful death of Scott Nevins.
Moreover, the Nevins have brought to my attention an undeniable and growing division within the Greek Church regarding the methodology and practices, used by Archimandrites Ephraim and Piasios at St. Anthony’s Monastery. This pattern of methodology and practices is also found in the other monasteries under the authority of Archimandrite Ephraim. The pattern of treatment of those who approach the hierarchy about their concerns with the monasteries of Archimandrite Ephraim is consistent.
Specifically, the Nevi ns are aware of two internal Church investigations of these destructive practices and methodology. My first course of action after filing a complaint will be to subpoena these reports, as well as to depose all those involved investigating and those investigated. This information will no doubt provide additional supporting factual information for the Nevins’ lawsuit.
Ashley and Diane Nevins’ primary purpose in pursuing their claims is to prevent this tragedy from happening to other families and individuals. In accordance with their wishes, every aspect of this lawsuit, including this demand letter and its enclosures, will be made public. Further, should this case proceed to court the Nevins want complete media coverage of the court proceedings. The internal investigations previously conducted by the Greek Orthodox Church of America were apparently not well publicized. The Nevins anticipate that wider media and internet dissemination of their story, their documents, the monastery investigations, and other relevant facts all made public will lead to the location of additional witnesses and the production of additional evidence to support their case. I am confident other tort claims will be supported by this evidence. Other issues relating to the monastery and church not yet known to the church will be revealed with consequences following. Many in the Greek Orthodox Church of America have already provided the Nevins important information, expressed a desire to be deposed and subpoenaed, and agreed to assist in news media and internet exposure of these monastery and hierarchy issues.
As a result of Scott’s suicide, his parents have lost a loving, kind, generous son, lost all that they had invested in him as a family, and a son who himself lost a potentially long and productive life. The degree of harm the Nevins have experienced from their son’s involvement, both witnessing Scotts detrimental changes while involved as well as the monastery and hierarchy’s treatment of the Nevins, with Scott’s resulting wrongful death, is incalculable. The Nevins were clear in their warnings of their concerns about their son’s well-being to the larger church, the monastery and the church hierarchy. No one in the church hierarchy or monastery with authority to do so did anything to address the Nevins’ continuous warnings and concerns over a six-year period of time.
While no award can truly compensate Ashley and Diane Nevins for their son’s loss by the outrageous conduct of all those involved, the unheeded Nevins· warnings, denial of the Nevins’ concerns, the traumas Scott Nevins suffered, his wrongful death, and other yet to be made public facts, will certainly justify substantial compensatory damages. In addition, this case calls for the imposition of punitive damages, in addition to compensatory damages.
If you are interested in resolving this matter before litigation, please contact me within seven days of the date of this letter. I r I do not hear from you by then. I will assume you are not interested in settlement and I will proceed with litigation.
Very truly yours,
STEPHEN M. MURPHY
Cc w/ encls.: Mr. Louis G. Atsaves, Mr. Theodore Kalmoukos, Pokrov.org (Cappy Larson/Melanie Sadoka), Mr. William Stotis, Mrs. Kristi Tedesco, Eparchial Synod. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.