Crime & Courts

Russian Orthodox monk in Kodiak sentenced to 5 years in prison for sexually abusing child

A monk with the Russian Orthodox Church in Kodiak was sentenced Monday to five years in prison for sexually abusing a child.

Evan P. Nicolai, 60, turned himself in to police in October 2021 after the young child reported to a parent inappropriate touching by the monk, according to charges filed against Nicolai. The child’s father accompanied Nicolai to the police department. A priest in charge of the seminary also went with them, according to a statement from the Diocese of Sitka and Alaska.

Nicolai, who lived in church housing, had known the child since late 2020 and told investigators that he molested the child multiple times when they were alone in his apartment.

Nicolai pleaded guilty in June to one count of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor, according to an online court database.

Superior Court Judge Stephen Wallace sentenced him Monday in Kodiak to serve five years in prison.

Nicolai will be on probation for 16 years after he’s released. He will not be allowed to have unsupervised contact with any child under 16 years old or go into places where children congregate, like schools or playgrounds, as part of his probation. Nicolai is required to register as a sex offender for an additional 15 years after his probation sentence.

Nicolai had stayed in Russian Orthodox Church locations throughout Alaska, including in Anchorage, Bethel, Eklutna, Homer and Kaktovik, according to the Alaska Department of Law. He also spent time at a monastery roughly an hour from Phoenix.

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Nicolai was formerly a cleric in the church until 2015, when he lost his status as a member of the clergy due to drunkenness, according to Father Deacon Thomas Rivas. He had been temporarily living in the Kodiak Orthodox community when the sexual abuse occurred in 2021, but Rivas said Nicolai “had no priestly or pastoral duties or authority.”

The diocese conducted an internal investigation to ensure there had not been additional abuse, Rivas said. Counselors spoke with families and assisted the child who had been abused, he said.

Officials with the church were relieved to hear of Nicolai’s conviction, the diocese’s statement said.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, focusing on breaking news. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota and previously helped cover the Nebraska Legislature for The Associated Press. Contact her at twilliams@adn.com.

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