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June 28, 2017

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Cover-up claims force out US Orthodox Church head

GARDEN CITY, New York -- The leader of the Orthodox Church in America has resigned and been replaced amid questions about whether he failed to report to church officials or law enforcement an allegation of a rape by a priest and other sexual-misconduct claims.

The church issued a statement saying Metropolitan Jonah, the archbishop of Washington, submitted his resignation in a letter on July 6. The letter from Jonah noted the resignation had come at the request of the Holy Synod of Bishops. Jonah did not refer to the rape allegation in his letter.

Part of the letter to the bishops said he begged "forgiveness for however I have offended you, and for whatever difficulties have arisen from my own inadequacies and mistakes in judgment."

The church, based in Syosset, on Monday issued a three-page statement detailing Jonah's four-year tenure as its leader. It said Jonah had failed to report a 2010 rape allegation involving an unidentified priest to authorities when he learned of it last February.

There are approximately 80,000 Orthodox Church in America members in more than 800 parishes and institutions in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

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