The family of Elena Frantzi, whose recent death shocked Cypriot society, is warning it may take legal action against anyone who spreads misinformation about their loved one.
Elena, who had a very troubled past as a young girl, died last month in Nicosia, while the precise cause of death is still unknown. Her story caused both the church and government to scramble in the aftermath, as the state had placed her in foster care at the age of 4 with a priest’s family.
The step-father priest was convicted of sexual abuse based on Elena’s testimony that he had been molesting her from a young age in their home. His wife was also facing allegations of physical abuse but charges were dropped after the priest was convicted and sent to prison.
Elena’s family issued a statement through their attorney on Wednesday to thank people who showed love for Elena even after her untimely death. They also had words of praise for Bishop Isiah of Tamasos and Orinis, who took special care of Elena in the last few years, and called on the Church to take tougher action against abusers in the clergy.
"We reserve our right to file a formal complaint with the police for defamation of the deceased"
They were also in support of the re-opening of the case against the priest’s wife, who admitted on live television she had struck the Elena when she was young using a wooden spoon. That case was dropped but Attorney General Costas Clerides ordered it re-opened.
The family warned those in the media, as well as professionals and psychologists, to stop spreading misleading or inaccurate information about Elena in their effort to infer how she lived her life or how she died, They also called on everyone to stop sharing private information about Elena.
“Otherwise, we reserve our right to file a formal complaint with the police for defamation of the deceased,” the statement said.
The family also said they would set up a fund in the memory of Elena Frantzi, which would provide support to abuse victims, hoping also for state financial support in this endeavour.
Last week the House drafted new laws to increase sentences for such crimes, turning most of them from misdemeanours to felonies. The Supreme Court also sided with the attorney general last week who appealed what he thought were very short sentences for sex offenders.
The family believes a new light will shine on the whole truth in Elena’s story, who died in a society which is only now beginning to pay serious attention to sexual abuse
and the problematic foster care system.