Scott Nevins was born on April II , 1985. His family is not Eastern Orthodox, but they are Christians (Protestant). The Nevins provided Scott with a stable home, headed by loving and responsible parents. Scott was an active participant in his church and was baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit at age 9.
While living with his parents for nineteen years, Scott showed no signs of psychological trauma resulting from abuse or neglect. He never attempted suicide or exhibited emotional problems of any kind. The Nevins’ only son was an outstanding student who earned academic awards, leadership awards and scholarships. He was well liked by both students and teachers. (See Scott’s obituary, which is attached as Exhibit A.) Many people, in addition to Scott’s family, who knew him both before the monastery and after he left had the opportunity to observe how he was changed, and not for the better, by his years in the monastery.
Scott at 18 and still living at home was interested in, among many intellectual interests, theology and other types of Christianity. The teenager read a book by Frank Schaeffer and was interested in Schaeffer’s conversion to Orthodoxy from Evangelical Christianity. As a result, Scott went to the local Greek church to hear Schaeffer speak. It was at this presentation that he met another charismatic convert to Orthodoxy, Michael Fowler.
Fowler, who was about thirty two years old at the time, was an enthusiastic personality who was interested in the young people in the local Greek Orthodox parish. Fowler made quite an impression on teenage Scott. The older man, who had been a novice monk at an Ephraimite monastery, related with enthusiasm his exorcism from demons, and extolled the wonders and miracles performed by “Elder Ephraim” at St. Anthony’s. Fowler invited Scott to visit a monastery with him.
At first, Scott’s work schedule prohibited him from going, but he told Fowler, “I would love to go to the Monastery, but I might be a bit of a burden for you … otherwise I’d be all over that Monastery like Monks on a prayer rope.” By April, 2004, Scott accompanied Fowler to an Orthodox monastery in Point Reyes, California. A short time later the pair visited St. Anthony’s.
At Fowler’s urging, Scott began to spend a great deal of time chanting, “Using the prayer rope, and saying the prayer.” The older man also told Scott that he needed “a spiritual father.” At the same time, Ashley and Diane began to notice a drastic change in Scott’s behavior. Their son became more introverted. He was evasive when asked with whom and with what he was becoming involved. His documented statements to family and friends were contradicting and misleading. This behavior was very out of character for Scott.
After Scott entered St. Anthony’s, the Nevins met with Fowler’s aunt and uncle. The couple is not Eastern Orthodox, but they allowed their nephew to live rent-free in a trailer on their property in rural Modesto. These people told the Nevins that they believed their nephew had a personality disorder and that they were afraid of him. Fowler had involved their son in monasticism.
Scott initially told his parents that he would spend s ix months at St. Anthony’s learning about Orthodoxy, but within two weeks he changed his mind. Scott informed the Nevins that he wanted to become a monk and that he would be entering the monastery full-time. He asked his parents to bless this decision. They refused.
Despite this lack of a paternal blessing, on September 7, 2004, Scott entered St. Anthony’s as a pre-novice. The parish priest at the Modesto church where Scott was recruited by Fowler, Father Jon Magoulias, did not realize that the young man had entered the monastery until 6 weeks later. Magoulias later told Ashley that there was a controversy in the Greek Church among the priests and in the wider church as to whether the Archimandrite Ephraim and his monasteries were a cult. Despite this, at the end of the meeting Magoulias told Ashley, “I am glad Scott is an Orthodox”.