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No charges yet in November's violent encounter between priest and Marine

TAMPA — A Greek Orthodox priest beaten last month in a parking garage would waive prosecution if the Marine reservist arrested in the incident admits there was nothing sexual about the encounter, the priest's attorney said.

"If he is willing to admit the truth — that there were no sexual overtones — then we would ask the State Attorney's Office to not proceed with formal charges," said attorney Jerry Theophilopoulos. who represents Father Alexios Marakis. "He would also have to apologize for his actions against Father Alexios."

But Jeff Brown, attorney for suspect Jasen Bruce, said his client "will not lie" to avoid charges. Bruce, 28, was accused of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon after a tire iron attack on the priest.

Marakis, 29, who speaks little English, had recently arrived to Tarpon Springs to complete graduate school work but got lost Nov. 9 in Tampa, he told authorities. He said he followed several cars into a garage at the Seaport Channelside condominium, spotted Bruce and asked for help.

But, by Bruce's account, the priest made a verbal sexual advance and grabbed Bruce's genitals. In an attempt to defend himself, he grabbed a tire iron from his trunk, called 911 and chased Marakis.

Marakis required stitches to his head.

Brown said the events of that evening happened just as his client described them.

"He, like most Marines, understands honor and telling the truth, and if doing so means he gets charged criminally and has to defend himself in a court of law, then so be it," Brown said.

Attorney Theophilopoulos questioned that stance.

"If Jasen Bruce is so-called innocent, according to his attorney, then how can his attorney explain contacting me via phone the day after the press conference asking me what they can do to make this case go away," Theophilopoulos said.

Attorney Brown responded, "I called Jerry 'T' to discuss the case and tell him that we were prepared to prove his client is gay and that he sexually grabbed my client and that perhaps it was in the church's best interest to make this case go away."

Theophilopoulos vehemently dismisses the accusation of a sexual advance.

"The priest is a man who forgives and forgets but if he is called, the law requires him to cooperate and he will cooperate fully," Theophilopoulos said.

It's unclear how much influence the priest's wishes would have on prosecutors, who have not filed formal charges against Bruce.

Michael Sinacore, felony bureau chief for the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office, declined to comment.

"The case is still under review, and there is no timetable," Sinacore said.

No charges yet in November's violent encounter between priest and Marine 12/22/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 22, 2009 10:20pm]
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