via New Britain priest charged with molesting 12-year-old girl

May 10, 2006

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. –The priest of an Armenian church was charged Tuesday with molesting a 12-year-old girl last year, and his parishioners responded by rallying in support of him and protesting the arrest.

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Krikoris Keshishian, 53, leader of St. Stephen's Apostolic Armenian Church in New Britain, was charged with fourth-degree sexual assault and impairing the morals of a child by sexual contact. He was released on a promise to appear in New Britain Superior Court on May 23.

New Britain police Sgt. Michael Baden said the allegations involve a single incident in May 2005, but more counts involving the same girl may be added. He said a relative of the girl called police after she told her family about the alleged abuse.

Police said Keshishian was acting in his official capacity when he inappropriately touched the girl.

Church members questioned whether Keshishian was being framed and said the arrest will devastate the church. The sexual assault charge is a felony that carries one to five years in prison.

"Someone must be trying to do something terrible to him," said church member Clara Semerdjian. "He is a loving man, a wonderful man, who would give his heart to anyone. … Something is very wrong with this."

Keshishian and his wife live in a church-owned house in New Britain. No one answered his front door Tuesday.

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p.s. his picture doesn't seem to be of a 53-year-old person's. I also just gave a call to this priest at his cell phone (just got it through won't-tell-from-where), nobody answered (perhaps because it is 1:31 a.m. in New Britain biggrin.gif). But the voice message seemed to be of a very young person. I am confused. Anyhow, I will not be surprised if he gets convicted. Corruption and mafia is not the only problem in the Armenian church, just like every other religous organization.