For context see the Metropolitan Joseph: The Scandal section in our Archives 2020-22 linked at the top of this page. Whereas all previous leaks to Orthodoxy in Dialogue have come from insider sources at the headquarters of the Antiochian Archdiocese in Englewood NJ, this one comes from a source within the Patriarchate of Antioch. The woman named in the report has courageously given her consent for us to publish it with her name unredacted. See our comments below.




We at Orthodoxy in Dialogue note the following:

  1. To expand upon what we stated in our introductory remarks above, this report was sent to us from Lebanon by an insider source in the Patriarchate. The sender writes, “[The report] was not distributed in the Archdiocese at all because some are still hoping to exert influence on the holy synod not to accept Joseph’s resignation.”
  2. We are awed by Ms. Helena Ditko’s courage in allowing us to publish the report. It takes tremendous inner strength for a victim of sexual predation to step into the spotlight. We previously published Ms. Ditko’s email referenced above and its attached voicemail, but without divulging her surname. We stand behind her one hundred percent.
  3. Emile Sayegh is general legal counsel for the Antiochian Archdiocese. We previously identified Paul Gaspari as the attorney retained to conduct the investigation.
  4. Gaspari dates the report variously the day before and the day of the beginning of the Holy Synod’s fall meeting. He states that he was instructed (by whom?) to suspend the investigation upon Al-Zehlaoui’s  forced resignation of September 16, but offers no explanation for the 4-week delay in sending his report to Sayegh.
  5. The incomplete and inconclusive investigative report of September 30, 2005 would appear to corroborate Ms. Ditko’s statement in her email, reiterated by us, that her then-husband’s report to Englewood of Al-Zehlaoui’s predatory relationship with her was swept under the carpet by Metropolitan Philip. 
  6. Gaspari was told to  expect a call from another woman alleging a sexual relationship with Al-Zehlaoui. This raises the question, already suggested by Ms. Ditko in her email, of how many women Al-Zehlaoui has slept with. It likewise raises the question, reported by us on October 10, of why a general call for other victims to step forward was never issued.
  7. Gaspari concludes by characterizing the case dismissively as “a classic ‘he said – she said’ situation” while acknowledging that he never interviewed Al-Zehlaoui. How is this “investigation” any less farcical than that of September 2005? It seems clear that Sayegh’s instructions to Gaspari were to exculpate Al-Zehlaoui whether explicitly or  implicitly to whatever extent possible. This may explain the late date of the report to coincide with the Synod’s deliberations over Al-Zehlaoui’s fate.
  8. In violation of Patriarch John’s repeated promises of full transparency with the clergy and laity of the Archdiocese, Gaspari recommends that  the Archdiocese neither expand the scope of the investigation nor publish the above report, and this for fear of escalating civil lawsuits against the Archdiocese. This is where Orthodoxy in Dialogue, together with our diligent sources who want to see justice served, steps into the breach.
  9. ADDENDUM: No sooner had we published this report when another source reached out to us to characterize Fathers Habib (already known to our readers as “Son of Antioch”) and Najim as “Joseph’s two biggest sycophants who owe their protection to him.”

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