Greek Orthodox priest John Grillis arrives at Burwood Court in Sydney after being charged with the assault of a parish member. Photo: AAP Image/Jenny Evans
THE Greek Orthodox priest of St Nektarios church in Burwood, Sydney, pleaded guilty two Fridays ago to a charge of common assault.
An additional charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm was withdrawn by the prosecution after an agreement was struck with the defence.
Father John Grillis, 53, however was not convicted because he was provoked, according to Magistrate William Pearce. Moreover, the minor nature of the offence and his previous good character were weighed in by the Magistrate not to convict Father Grillis.
The Magistrate found that the charge of common assault was established and noted to the priest, "You've laid your hands in a somewhat unorthodox fashion."
The incident that led to the charges occurred February 1, 2006 during a parish community meeting.
Words were allegedly exchanged between John Mihalopoulos, 70, and Father John Grillis.
As a result, an altercation broke out and Father Grillis allegedly put Mihalopoulos in a headlock while sticking a glass to his neck. Father Grillis denied his guilt and stated to NKEE that he pleaded guilty because he could not afford to proceed further with legal expenses, otherwise he claimed that he would have been exonerated.
"I'm a family man, if I pursued this (trial) for another five days it would have cost me an additional $30,000," said Father Grillis.
He did concede to grabbing Mr Mihalopoulos by the shirt. "I never denied that I grabbed him by the shirt because that was the wise thing to do at the time, after he offended me" said Father Grillis.
"He was marching towards me, wagging his finger" he added.
When asked if he considered his behaviour contradictory to his capacity as a priest he replied, "You're not going to preach to me. I was defending the honour of the church. In the first Ecumenical Synod, St Nicholas slapped Arios because he undermined the honour and integrity of the church. I'm not saying that I'm St Nicholas but when he (Mihalopoulos) is marching towards me, wagging his hand what am I supposed to do?" asked Father Grillis rhetorically.
Mr Mihalopoulos argued that what happened was "very sad, not only for me but for everyone and for our Orthodox faith."
Father Grillis will not be serving the St Nektarios church at Burwood any longer as he has been transferred to the St Athanasios church at the Rookwood Cemetery.