SAINT PETERSBURG: A Russian court sentenced an Orthodox priest to 14 years in a penal colony Wednesday in a paedophilia case that dragged on over four years after he had initially fled the country.
The court in Priozersk, a city in the northern Leningrad region, found cleric Gleb Grozovsky guilty of sexually abusing three children younger than 14 at two religious holiday camps.
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"Gleb Grozovsky was sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment at a high security penal colony and to restricted movement for a year after his release," the court said. The court also ordered Grozovsky to pay 400,000 rubles ($7,072) to each of his victims' families.
According to investigators, Grozovsky molested an unspecified number of children at an Orthodox children's camp in northern Russia in 2011 and a similar camp on the Greek island of Kos in 2013.
Grozovsky said "there was no event of a crime" in court on January 10, according to Russian news agencies.
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Grozovsky is a well known priest in Russia's second city Saint Petersburg, where he worked with drug and alcohol addicts, coordinated various church-affiliated youth programmes and even had his own radio show.
He also worked as an advisor to Maksim Mitrofanov, the general director of Saint Petersburg's Zenit FC. Authorities in Saint Petersburg opened an investigation into Grozovsky's case in November 2013 and announced its completion in June 2017.
Grozovsky hid from prosecution by leaving Russia after the investigation was opened. He was declared internationally wanted in October 2013 and was extradited from Israel to Russia in September 2016.
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