Nevins’ Demand Letter 2b: Statement of Facts (2012 – Scott’s Suicide and Aftermath)

Fr. Philaret (Damien) Berrier

On June 9, 2012, Scott left Oregon and drove approximately 20 hours to the monastery in Arizona. He arrived at St. Anthony’s late on the evening of June 10, 2012. Scott drove up to the gate. Clint Allen “Damian” Berrier, who lived at the monastery, was working security. Scott drove up to the monastery entrance, but when Father Philaret (Berrier) approached his car, he turned around quickly and sped away. Berrier followed Scott in another vehicle. According to his witness statement to the police, Berrier stopped before he reached Scott’s car. Only after hearing a gunshot did he approach Scott’s car. The Nevins’ only son was bleeding, but still moving. Berrier called 911. When the police arrived Berrier was still outside of Scott’s car. Soon after Berrier completed his statement, Archimandrite Paisios drove to the scene. Only then did the abbot give the detectives documentation of threats Scott had made against the monastery and those in it. Scott died two hours after sustaining a gunshot wound to the head. He was pronounced dead at 0214 hours on June II, 2012.

arizona

A Modesto police officer came to the Nevins’ home that same clay and told Ashley about Scott’s death. The two of them then went to Diane’s work place to let her know the terrible news. Later that day Ashley contacted the San Francisco Metropolis to inform Metropolitan Gerasimos of Scott’s death. The Nevins never heard a word from the monastery or from the Metropolitan. Ashley tried on three separate occasions during the week following Scott’s death to talk directly with Metropolitan Gerasimos. He never succeeded in reaching the bishop. His first call to the Diocese informed them of Scott’s death and where it had taken place, the first they had heard of it. Metropolitan Gerasimos saying that he was praying for Scott’s salvation. He did not invite the Nevins to call him back to discuss Scott’s death. However, the diocesan attorney did attempt to contact the Nevins. The family did not try to make contact with Metropolitan Gerasimos again, nor did they return the lawyer’s call.

Scott's father, Ashley Nevins.
Scott’s father, Ashley Nevins.

On three occasions during the month of June 2012, someone in the Greek Church called the police, falsely accusing Ashley of threatening physical harm. The first contact was by the Pinal County Sheriff s Department, the second contact was a day later by two Modesto City Police officers, the third contact was a phone call a couple of days later by another Modesto City Police officer.

In contrast to the Church’s reaction to Scott’s death, all of the lawmen who responded to the false accusations against Ashley told the grieving father that he was living in a nightmare, and apologized for the intrusion. The Phoenix office of the ATF also called Ashley after they learned of Scott’s death to offer any assistance they could provide.

The box of Scott's cremated remains, which were recently returned to his family after his June 11, 2012, suicide outside the monastery gates.
The box of Scott’s cremated remains, which were recently returned to his family after his June 11, 2012, suicide outside the monastery gates.

Ashley visited the Clergy Laity Congress on its last day, Thursday July 5, 20 12. Most of the delegates were in the front lobby and the loading zone, getting ready to leave the hotel and the conference center. Many of the attendees saw Ashley, but he did not say one word to any church member there as he handed out obituaries of his son in silence, and he left peacefully after about 15 minutes. A hotel security man approached him and asked if he was staying at the hotel. Ashley told him he was not and asked him if he would like him to leave, the hotel security man said yes, and Ashley immediately left. As Ashley was driving out the hotel driveway two Phoenix City Police cars came racing into the lobby loading zone area. Scott’s father drove from the conference to the sheriffs’ office in Florence to pick up the personal effects of his dead son. From there he went straight to the Phoenix airport to catch his flight back to Sacramento. He and his wife later donated the car his son died in to the Pinal County Sheriffs’ Department.

Metropolitan Gerasimos is the author of a number of articles published in periodicals in the area of psychology, and is a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and the American Counseling Association (ACA).
Metropolitan Gerasimos is the author of a number of articles published in periodicals in the area of psychology, and is a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and the American Counseling Association (ACA).

Since Scott’s death he has been portrayed by many monastery supporters as having had emotional problems prior to entering the monastery. The Nevins dispute this, for many reasons; Metropolitan Gerasimos who is a PhD Clinical Psychologist told the Nevins he was going to interview Scott to see if he had entered the monastery of his own free will. One follower of Archimandrite Ephraim, and a good example of the kind of person the Nevins have had to deal with during this long ordeal, claimed Scott’s death was the result of the government trying to control people by placing probes in their heads. He has developed an internet YouTube outlining his conspiracy theory as to what happened to Scott. The YouTube is entitled, Scott Nevins: Suicide At St. Anthony’s Monastery.

Geronda Paisios, abbot of St. Anthony's Monastery in Florence, AZ. A former electrician from Vancouver, BC, he became a monk at Filotheou Monastery in the early 80's.
Geronda Paisios, abbot of St. Anthony’s Monastery in Florence, AZ.

Archimandrite Paisios, the abbot at St. Anthony’s Monastery, also made statements to an investigative reporter for the The National Herald concerning Scott’s psychological state while he was at St. Anthony’s. “He did not show any signs [of peculiar behavior]. A year before he left he was in contact with some people who were acquaintances and friends and he had some concerns. I remember one time he had said to me that the white flowers in the oleanders in the Monastery’s garden is the symbol of Satanists”. He did not do anything about what he observed; he did not address those issues with either the parents or the Metropolitan. Scott stayed there growing ever worse in this condition and no one did anything to address this issue. Scott’s parents during this entire time kept speaking to the church about the concerns they had with the Archimandrite’s leadership, teaching and practices. They observed in Scott what Archimandrite Piasios had admitted and spoken to them about.

http://www.forbes.com/profile/michael-jaharis/
http://www.forbes.com/profile/michael-jaharis/

Mr. Michael Jaharis, the Co-Chairman of the Greek Orthodox Church of America Clergy -Laity Congress, made a speech in October 201 2 in reference to many issues in the church, among them the monasteries of Archimandrite Ephraim. He spoke about the monastery issues calling them a ‘disease’, spoke about the death of Scott Nevins, that the monasteries refused to fully cooperate in an internal church investigation of them by the Congress, and he said “we expect to take severe and appropriate action to remedy this existing issue, since not doing so could have long term grave consequences.” He also spoke about another monastery with a sex abuse problem in Astoria, New York not affiliated with Archimandrite Ephraim. He expressed his concerns about how the Ecumenical Patriarch has handled that situation since that particular monastery is under his direct authority, the same as the Greek Orthodox Church and Archimandrite Ephraim monasteries here in America are to.

http://www.stotis-baird.com/bill-stotis/
http://www.stotis-baird.com/bill-stotis/

A practicing Chicago Attorney and laity Congress member, Mr. William Stotis, was assigned the responsibility by the Congress to investigate the monasteries under the leadership of Archimandrite Ephraim. A report was developed. The report has not been made public to the church; the hierarchy will not allow it with their reasons not made public to the church. This is the same investigation that Mr. Jaharis made reference to the monastery not being fully cooperative with their investigation. This investigation began prior to the death of Scott Nevins.

It was not until after the death of Scott Nevins that Metropolitan Gerasiamos then formed an internal committee to address issues with the monasteries led by Archimandrite Ephraim. The Metropolitan and the committee have yet to report any lack of cooperation of the Archimandrite Ephraim or other monastic’s with their efforts to address the issues there.

Louis G. Astaves
Louis G. Astaves

A practicing Chicago attorney and former Clergy-Laity Congress member, Mr. Louis Atsaves, has developed a website called, Greek Orthodox Christians for Truth and Reform http://www.gotruthreform.org . The website challenges the attitudes, teachings and practices of the Archimandrite Ephraim, the hierarchy that supports him, and the followers of the monastery. Mr. Atsaves, with other like minded associates, have met with members of the hierarchy to express their concerns about the monasteries, Archimandrite Paisios and Archimandrite Ephraim. A second website addressing these issues called, We Are The Orthodox, has been developed by a Greek Orthodox Church lay person, Yanni Pappas (www.wearetheorthodox.com).

KVOAA second KVOA Tucson Channel 5 News report with the same previous lead reporter has been developed on St. Anthony’s Monastery in Florence, Arizona and will air shortly after Archimandrite Ephraim, the church Metropolitan hierarchy and the Ecumenical Patriarch have received this letter. That report will then be put on the internet.

Other forms of media reporting of the issues around the monasteries, the archimandrite leadership practices, the hierarchy relationship with the archimandrite leadership, the role and responsibility of the Ecumenical Patriarch in all of this, are coming forthwith. All such reporting will be done in the context of the death of Scott Nevins at St. Anthony’s Monastery.

A BOY presents Patriarch Bartholomew with a gift in the courtyard of the monastery.
A BOY presents Patriarch Bartholomew with a gift in the courtyard of the monastery.

The list of unresolved problems from both monasteries and church alike, how they came about, and what is not being done by the hierarchy to address them is very long. Michael Jaharis addressed some of these issues of monastery and hierarchy behavior in his October 20 12 speech to the Congress. The Nevins will address this pattern of church and monastery leadership behavior and its horrible impact on their son and family both in the media and if necessary in court. The Greek Orthodox laity is now finding out that there is an undeniable and growing division taking place in the Greek Orthodox Church of America regarding Archimandrite Ephraim and the monasteries. Much greater church wide knowledge of hierarchy treatment of the monastery issues being raised by the Nevins, the media and concerned Greek Orthodox is now becoming known.

The Nevins started addressing these issues with the church, monastery and hierarchy in 2004 or 8 years ago.

This overview of the facts does not include every factual detail the Nevins have and what other concerned parties have given them pertaining to the involvement of Scott Nevins in St. Anthony’s Monastery and the Greek Orthodox Church of America, his time spent at the monastery, the resulting traumas Scott Nevins experienced while involved, admissions, and other information about how the church hierarchy and Archimandrites Ephraim and Paisios has treated these issues.

Nevins’ Demand Letter Part 2b: Statement of Facts (2011 – Scott Leaves the Monastic Life)

Geronda Paisios & Geronda Ephraim
Geronda Paisios & Geronda Ephraim

In January 23, 2011, Scott called his parents and told them he no longer wished to be a monk. The young man had confronted Archimandrite Ephraim over not being holy in a confess ion. Scott also related to his parents that the Archimandrite ate special foods, had monks chauffeur him, and received special gifts. In addition, Scott reported that Archimandrite Ephraim’s living quarters were far better than any of the other monastics with lots of imported furnishings. Finally, he said that the Archimandrite could not prove his special powers, and that he now believed that the monastery only existed for the benefit of the two archimandrites Ephraim and Paisios. Scott continued, saying that the monastery was not honest about what went on inside it, especially concerning money. Finally, Scott admitted that Archimandrite Ephraim could not heal anyone, and that anyone as materialistic as the Archimandrite was could not be holy. After Scott left the monastery he called Archimandrite Ephraim a charlatan and told the Nevins that the ER doctor who had treated him had said that as well.

Phoenix Sky HarborOn February 25, 20II, at 2 a.m., Scott fled from the monastery. He told no one he was leaving that night. He had told them previously that he was going to leave, but he was now afraid, saying, “They were casting spells on me.” He left in such a rush that he neglected to take all of his personal items. He walked on the road for hours and was helped by two different strangers who got him to the Phoenix airport. Scott was terrified that he would be found and brought back to the monastery, to face a horrible retribution, perhaps even death, for his defection. He was afraid that the monastery might cook up some scheme to ‘frame’ him with. Scott was also scared of the many monastery supporters, especially those who believed in the various conspiracy theories put forth at St. Anthony’s.

Scott at St. Anthony's as a novice monk named Ioannis.
Scott at St. Anthony’s as a novice monk named Ioannis.

The 27 year old man who left the monastery that night was a hollow shell of his former teenage 19 year old self. The younger Scott was full of life; he had meaning and purpose, and had a great potential future in front of him. He was a kind, gifted, highly intelligent, emotionally healthy, easy going and a sensitive young man with a dry sense of humor, who thought he might become a philosophy professor or child psychologist. Scott had a talent for working with young children, and was a skilled intellectual thinker. The Scott who fled from St. Anthony’s in the middle of the night, afraid for his life, was deeply distressed, traumatized and sleep-deprived. The abused Scott that came home to the Nevins was not the same Scott who had lived with them for 19 years. The different and nearly unrecognizable Scott that the church and monastery had created was terrified, discouraged, and emotionally traumatized.

Scott Nevins-Waterfall.
Scott Nevins-Waterfall.

Scott returned home briefly and was still afraid of the monastery and its followers; he then decided to start a new life in Oregon. He first moved in with his grandparents, who offered to help him get a college degree. After living with them for several months he eventually got his own car and an apartment close to them and to his school. He tried to find a job. His family in Modesto kept up good and consistent contact with him. Scott was surrounded by people who loved and cared for him. He returned to Modesto on occasion to visit with his family and his old friends. Everyone noticed that this was not the same Scott they had known before. Even Scott knew that something was not right with himself as a result of his years at the St. Anthony’s. Although he could not articulate exactly what was wrong, he recognized that he had been seriously damaged.

Nevins’ Demand Letter Part 1 – Re: Wrongful Death of Scott Nevins

Dear Sirs:

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 distress, 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 Nevins 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

Enclosures

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.

http://www.stephenmmurphy.com/

http://www.stephenmmurphy.com/Attorneys/Stephen-M-Murphy.html

Stephen M. Murphy, lawyer for the Nevins.
Stephen M. Murphy, lawyer for the Nevins.