The death of 29-year-old Elena Frantzi has distressed Cyprus society, with authorities and the media scrambling to respond to public outrage over her stepfather priest who went to prison for sexually molesting her.
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Elena, who had a very troubled past as a young girl, died this week. She was found dead at her home in Tseri, Nicosia, while other reports said she had collapsed and taken to the hospital but died on the way. The precise cause of death is still unknown while sources said it was sudden death.
When she was 10 years old, Elena Frantzi told Social Welfare Services about her ordeal but nobody believed her, according to reports
The young woman came from a broken family and was adopted at age 4 by a priest and his wife in Ergates, Nicosia, who also had two other children. The priest spent 18 months behind bars after he was convicted on sexual abuse charges, levelled against him by his adopted daughter Elena.
The girl reportedly had confided in several people that the priest abused her sexually from a very young age, as early as when she was welcomed into their home. When she was 10 years old she told Social Welfare Services, according to media reports, but nobody believed her. Then, 10 years later and with emotional support from others, Elena found herself on the witness stand telling a court how her stepfather sexually abused her.
Her stepmother, who admitted on live television that she struck Elena once, is dismissing allegations that she too physically abused her stepdaughter. The TV anchor in the studio was communicating with the couple, who was giving a live interview from home, telling them that the Legal Services Department had reopened a case against the wife based on the allegations.
She told viewers that she had struck Elena on the hip using a wooden spoon because she got angry, after learning that the teen -at the time- had stolen jewelry that belonged to a church.
Priest stepfather says he is innocent
The church has also been criticised for not taking action against the priest, who still enjoys some support in his community and in some circles. There are also differences of opinion within the church, with the media trying to dig deeper as to how the leadership of the church handled the case.
“I am innocent,” he said on live television, dismissing any and all allegations against him.
Elena's half-sister also spoke to the media in defence of her stepfather.
"We shared a bedroom together with Elena, and this thing never actually happened," she said according to online daily Kathimerini.
People on social media have been posting emotional messages after learning of Elena's death, pointing out that she never had proper support as she was growing up.