A Russian Orthodox priest who adopted 70 children has been arrested and charged with sexual assault, debauchery, and failure to perform parental duties.
Nikolai Stremsky, the prior of the Holy Trinity parish in the town of Saraktash in the Urals region of Orenburg, was arrested on September 25.
A court in the region also placed in pretrial detention one of Stremsky’s daughters and her husband, who were charged with illegally depriving of freedom minors under the age of 18.
Seven minors who were under Stremsky's guardianship are the alleged victims in the case. Stremsky's lawyers say their client rejected all charges, saying that the children's testimonies against him were falsified.
Stremsky has been known for years across Russia after media reported that he adopted 70 children.
In 2006, he was awarded The Golden Heart Prize established by the International Red Cross organization and the Russian government.
Benjamin, the metropolitan of Orenburg and Saraktash, temporarily banned Stremsky from officiating sermons for the duration of the investigation.