Cyprus church defrocks priest for 1st time over sex offense

NICOSIA, Cyprus — A senior cleric says Cyprus' Orthodox Christian Church has for the first time defrocked a priest for sexually abusing his step-daughter when she was a child.

Kykkos Bishop Nikiforos said Wednesday the Holy Synod's decision was unanimous.

The case shocked the conservative east-Mediterranean island nation after the 29-year-old victim was found dead in her home last month.

Many were outraged when local media revealed that the priest kept his job after a criminal court jailed him in 2013 for the same crime, which took place in the '90s. His conviction was upheld on appeal.

The priest — who can appeal the church decision — denied wrongdoing. Orthodox priests are allowed to marry.

Bishop Nikiforos said the church will act to avoid delays in handling such issues in the future.

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