Showing posts with label Bishop Susan Goff. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bishop Susan Goff. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

As Petition Passes 7,000 Signatures, Episcopal Diocese of Virgina Still Refuses to Address Bob Malm’s Perjury

You have to hand it to The Episcopal Church. It’s not just set in its ways. It’s bound and determined to ruin itself.

Now, with more than 7,000 signatures, my petition asking Bishop Susan Goff and The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia to conduct a full, fair, open and independent investigation of Bob Malm’s perjury is still being ignored. That’s right—a denomination that experts say is now less than 20 years away from collapse is hellbent on avoiding dealing with a priest who commits perjury and tries to drag the dying into court,

Petition About Perjuring Priest Bob Malm Passes 7000 Signatures


And it’s not just the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and Bishop Susan Goff who are morally bankrupt.

Perjuring priest Bob Malm continues to serve as interim rector of St. Gabriel’s, Marion Massachusetts. There, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, he assures parishioners that they are in his “daily prayers.” That’s far from comforting, coming from a perjurer and priest of whom someone close to him as said, “it’s just a job for him.”

Meanwhile, The Episcopal Church’s insurance carrier continues to attempt to defend the actions of the diocese and parish in court, with attorney Diane DiBlasio working on setting a motions court date in June in our case. Proof positive that The Episcopal Church is as stubborn as it is stupid.

And let’s not forget: The Episcopal Church and much of its clergy is morally bankrupt,

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

BREAKING NEWS: Court Cases Rescheduled Due to COVID-19 Pandemic, Grace Episcopal May Still be in Court in 2021

COVID-19 Crisis Delays Grace Episcopal Court Cases

With multiple lawsuits now under way against Grace Episcopal Church, the Episcopak Diocese of Virginia, Susan Goff, and members of Bob Malm’s family, there is a monkey wrench thrown into things by virtue of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the case of the suit against Grace Church, Susan Goff, and the diocese, the court has continued the motions hearing until June 19. That date does not work for counsel representing the defendants, so opposing counsel and I are trying to work out a new date so that we might submit a praecipe to the court requesting the change.

In the lawsuit against Leslie Malm for defamation, the initial return date has moved to June 26, although that date also may require adjustment. Meantime, I am in discussions with some of the attorneys who represented the dissident groups in the so-called property recovery litigation about possibly expanding the suit. Needless to say, her potential liability in tort is not confined to defamation.

Experts point out that, at its current rate of decline, The Episcopal Church only has about 17 Easters to go. That said, due to scheduling issues arising from the COVID-19 crisis, it increasingly looks Grace Episcopal and the Diocese will still be in court when the 16th-to-last Easter rolls around. Specifically, in response to the pandemic, the motions court hearing date has been postponed until June 19. Unfortunately, defense counsel has a conflict on that date, so it will probably be the end of June or July before we can resolve the various motions pending before the court,

Similarly, dates remain up in the air for the defamation suit against Lindsey Malm Anders, and I may also expand her case with the assistance of legal counsel.

Lastly, while I cannot share details, Bob Malm certainly remains on my radar, as well as the attorneys representing Mom’s estate. Suffice it to say there will be more news on those issues in the coming weeks.

In all of this, the notable thing is that Bob Malm tried to lie his way into misusing the court system to shut down criticism. In so doing, he went down the proverbial rabbit hole, pulling Jeff Sugarland Chiow, the parish, the diocese, and his family into what can only be described as a hot mess. But then, with Bob Malm having consistently placed his own perceived needs ahead of those of anyone else, the outcome comes as no surprise.

Bob et al would also do well to remember that I long ago structured my persona affairs such that I am judgment proof. All assets are either held in irrevocable trust, owned solely by Mike, or in other forms of ownership exempt from judicial process.

Of course, had Bob and Sugarland Chiow had half the common sense God gave a goat, they would have considered such factors long ago. But Bob’s initial hope was to somehow convince law enforcement that writing about him was a crime, But with no lese majeste statutes on the books to cover Episcopal clergy in the US, and the thorny issue of the First Amendment standing in his way, perjuring priest Bob Malm wound up in over his head in record time.

The result is lasting damage to the parish, as well as awareness by literally hundreds of bloggers and more than a million social media users of the church’s actions, initiated by Bob Malm and enjoying the full support of the church vestry and diocesan bishops. Nor is there any possibility that I will go away quietly any time soon. In short, the diocese and parish, as well as Sugarland Chiow and perjuring priest Bob Malm, placed themselves in a catch-22 situation in which no possible scenario exists in which they win. At this point, the only question is how badly they lose, and whether the parish will survive, which is looking less likely by the day.

Moreover, the diocese’s farcical and ugly claim that its clergy will only be held to account if they face criminal charges reveals how illusory church canons are, for they specifically forbid clergy from engaging in conduct involving “dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation”— no criminal charges required. At the same time, it is clear for all to see that the diocese has no claim to moral authority.

Any denomination in which it is okay for Bob Malm to commit perjury is in sorry shape indeed.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

DioVA Provides Further Evidence It Is Indifferent to Abuse





During the 2015 General Convention (GC) of The Episcopal Church, two measures were passed that addressed abuse in the church. Measure 2015-A073 authorized the updating of Model Policies for the Protection of Children, while Measure 2015-A074 called for the update of the Safe Church Training Materials.

The work was done by a GC-appointed task force spearheaded by the eminently capable The Rev. Canon Robin Hammeal-Urban, and the Rev. Canon Carol Cole Flanagan, as well as several other persons with a passion for ensuring that Episcopal churches are safe places for all persons.

The resulting materials were approved by the most recent General Convention and require that all dioceses adopt standards at least as protective as those approved by General Convention; higher standards may be implemented. Further, the measure makes clear that the standards apply to all church programs and activities.

Yet many dioceses have ignored these requirements. For example, here in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, the policies used do not reflect the current standards. The Episcopal Diocese of Washington (EDOW) does follow the standards, since Canon Flanagan is canonically resident in that diocese.

The status of the new policies in other dioceses are less clear, for many don’t publish their policies on their websites. That’s a mistake, for failing to publish that information makes it difficult at best to ensure compliance. (Speaking of, General Convention ignored efforts to include a question about compliance in the annual report.)

And of course, there is nothing to prevent individual parishes from adopting these policies. Yet those with which which I am familiar have consistently failed to done do.

So my questions are these: What message does General Convention’s failure to include a question about compliance on the annual parochial report send to the church? To victims of #metoo and #churchtoo? How can the church claim to be serious about these issues when it fails to take even the most minimal steps towards ensuring compliance?

For those dioceses and parishes that have ignored the requirements imposed by the new standards: What message does this send to parents in the church? To vulnerable adults? To all who are concerned about bullying and misconduct in the church? How can you claim to be an inclusive church when you ignore safe church efforts?

As a practical matter, entities within the church that fail to adopt these measures could be found liable to failing to adopt these common standards.

Clearly, the Episcopal Church still pays far too little attention to issues of sexual and other misconduct in the church. And Bishop Goff’s claim to be working for an inclusive church are a bunch of poo.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Safe Church and DioVA: One of the Diocese’s Major Governance Failures

One of the many downsides of the years of property recovery litigation here in DioVA is that it diverted massive amounts of time and attention from ordinary governance issues. This power vacuum  extended even to day-to-day accountability among Mayo House staff, and it was exacerbated by +Shannon’s indifference to getting involved in the details and his adversarial management style.

But one of the diocese’s biggest failings, and one still ignored by Susan Goff, was the need to update and expand on existing sexual misconduct prevention policies, to include Safe Church training.

As things stand, diocesan policies cover sexual misconduct involving children and vulnerable adults. But there is no next to no training on boundary issues, bullying, and the many other ways in which church power differentials can prove harmful. This is particularly the case with clergy like Bob Malm, who had virtually no meaningful supervision during his tenure with Grace Church, either from the diocese or the vestry.

This is at variance with the work done by the Rev. Canon Robin Hammeal-Urban, the Rev. Canon Carol Cole Flanagan, and others in drafting the current Safe Church Model Policies, available here in PDF. The new policies establish standards for LGBTQ+ members, define “vulnerable adults,” and more. Additionally, they establish standards for auditing every three years, much as is done in the Catholic Church.

Work in Other Dioceses


Many dioceses, including Connecticut, where Robin Hammeal-Urban serves, have adopted professional guidelines for clergy and policies for the inclusion of registered sex offenders in parish life. Copies of relevant Connecticut documents are available here.

Meanwhile, Bishop Goff has her visioning initiative under way, in which she seeks to map out a vision for the future. But without an effective governance framework in place, any such effort is likely to flounder. And while Goff talks about her vision for an inclusive church, the church is not effectively inclusive if it permits bullying and other non-sexual misconduct.

In my case, look at the Model Policy’s definition of violence:


See the reference to “isolation from others?” That is exactly what Bob Malm did when he instructed parish staff to isolate Mike and me. Oh, and BTW, Mike’s age at the time placed him within the definition of “vulnerable adult.” Yet per the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia’s written statement, Bob’s conduct is not of “weighty and material importance to the ministry of the church.” And Mom, who was dying of COPD, certainly met the definition.

Bullying


The seriousness of this situation is underscored by the Diocese of Connecticut’s Safe Church training materials, here in PDF.

Below is the definition of bullying:



Note the part about lack of empathy; which certainly would describe Bob Malm’s conduct towards my Mom.

Role of Grace Church Parishioners and Diocesan Staff

Now, look at the information from the Diocese of CT on bystanders to bullying. As you can see, those who stand silently by when witnessing bullying are considered validators. 



Given that most people at Grace Church are well aware of Bob Malm’s efforts to bully me and Mike, yet remain silent, they qualify as validators. And diocesan staff occupy roles from that of assistants to validators; none are defenders.

Conclusion

Not only is the Diocese of Virginia woefully behind the times when it comes to ensuring that its churches are welcoming and inclusive, but it is has absolutely no concept that this is the case. Indeed, it is so caught up in its own little world that it recently voted Sven vanBaars as a delegate to General Convention—the very same priest who says in writing that perjury is only a problem form clergy if they face criminal charges.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Bishop Goff and COVID-19: A New Wrinkle in the Pandemic


Bishop Susan Goff’s Brand of Christianity: No thanks, you can keep it.

There’s a new wrinkle in the COVID-19 pandemic and the decision to largely shutter churches in The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia for the new two weeks. That is that Bishop Goff is at high risk for the virus, and soon will be at even greater risk.

This issue, of course, is that Goff’s age places her at higher risk of infection.

Even worse, the news that she soon will begin chemotherapy for breast cancer exacerbates the risk. Chemotherapy is, by definition, immunosuppressive, thus compounding her risk profile.

Still worse, much of what Goff does involves crowds. Whether it’s ecclesiastical visits, meetings, or public events, self-isolation will be difficult.

While worrisome, the news may not be all bad. As Goff learns to adapt to a more limited in-person presence, we may see the diocese finally start to take social media seriously. For far too long, the diocese has maintained next to no online presence. Yes, it has a website and Facebook page, but it never engages with external audiences, and it has been years since Goff used her Twitter account. And forget Instagram or other emerging platforms.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

BREAKING NEWS: Susan Goff Diagnosed With Cancer



The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia yesterday reported that Bishop Susan Goff has been diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer. The cancer is not aggressive, and her prognosis reportedly excellent.

Goff will undergo surgery shortly before Easter, and will undergo chemo in the weeks that follow. She reports that her Sunday visitations will continue as planned, but her weekday work may have to be adjusted in light of her treatment.

Goff states that her succession plans remain unchanged, which call for the election of a bishop diocesan in 2022, at which time she will return to the role of bishop suffragen, retiring in 2023.

A blog and special email address have been set up to stay in touch with Bishop Goff, which can be accessed at http://www.thediocese.net/who-we-are/our-bishops/bishop-goff/healing-grace/




Saturday, March 7, 2020

Diocesan Response to Bob Malm’s Perjury, Misconduct Encourages Abuse, Discourages Reporting




Recently, one of the members of the Roman Catholic Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors spoke to media via Skype as she trains church members in Australia to implement more robust measures to protect children from abuse. Her sobering comments hold damning implications for the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, Susan Goff, and the way that diocesan officials respond to allegations of clergy misconduct.

“If we would expect that with all the guidelines we have in place we can prevent abuse 100 percent, we would be na├»ve,” said Dr. Myriam Wijlens of the Netherlands. “We cannot prevent it in the Church in as much as we cannot prevent it in the Scouts or sports. No system will ever be perfect.”

However, she [said], “we can, and I believe we do, learn to be more attentive, listen and see the signals better and thus improve our reaction. This goes for those in leadership as well as parents and other faithful in the church: we are indeed all more attentive. There is also a better culture that encourages victims to speak and report. The preventive measures will hopefully mean that abusers are not moved and that thus repetitive abuse may be prevented.” (Emphasis added.)

That raises the question: Would any person in his or her right mind go to the diocese with concerns about potential clergy misconduct when the diocese allows retaliation, up to and including perjury on Bob Malm’s part? Would you be comfortable sharing your story with a diocese that is prepared to say that perjury by a priest is only actionable if criminal charges are brought? How do you feel about a church that tries to drag the dying into court?

The answer, of course, is that no one is going to stick their neck out when the diocese responds like this.

The answer becomes even more starkly clear when, as in Bob Malm’s case, the diocese turns a blind eye to breach of confidentiality in the complaint process. Complaints are supposed to be confidential, but the diocese knew and turned a blind eye to Bob Malm’s disclosure of my complaint to Jeff Aaron and others. Yes, it eventually took action, but nothing serious. The fact that Bob Malm doesn’t even adhere to canonically mandated confidentiality should serve as a warning sign to anyone dealing with him, or the diocese itself.

This paradigm has profound implications within the larger Title IV process. Given that clergy occupy the position of perceived power in any complaint situation, parents who for example allege sexual abuse of a child face insurmountable challenges if the diocese is willing to allow retaliation, and turn its back on all clergy misconduct that does not involve criminal charges. Their only option is to get out, and hope that police take their complaints seriously.

In short, the situation with Bob Malm calls into question the entire Title IV system and its ability to address clergy misconduct. Additionally, it makes clear that diocesan officials simply cannot be trusted with issues of this sort.

Read more about the Catholic Church and Dr. Wijlins’ interview here.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Grace Church Transition Process at Risk As Church Refuses to Deal With Bob Malm’s Perjury, Misconduct

Comment from Twitter about Bob Malm’s conduct. 
In September 2019, I authored a piece for Episcopal Cafe on the role of interim ministry in congregational health. The piece, developed with the assistance of a former canon to the ordinary and an expert on the interim process, noted that one of the steps in a successful interim ministry per the seminal Alban Institute study is a congregation coming to terms with its past.

In that regard — understanding and coming to terms with its past — Grace Church presently is failing on both scores. As a result, the parish, already in a state of precipitous decline, places itself at existential risk.

Specifically, I am referring to the need to recognize and put into context Bob Malm’s role within the parish. While many of the parishioners who remain regard Bob and his “ministry” with affection, the reality is rather more complex.

For example, Bob’s compensation package, bludgeoned past a reluctant vestry, starved the parish of funds needed to serve the needy, to reach out to the community, and to properly maintain its physical plant.

Similarly, Bob’s aloof but cordial brand of narcissism, combined with his sense of entitlement, his feckless but controlling approach to parish governance, his indifference to the ethical aspects of the church and its members, and his seemingly thin personal faith, all combined to create a parish very much built in Bob’s image. People are friendly and welcoming, but there is little attention to good governance, saving for the future, or living into the baptismal covenant.

Beyond that, much like Bob, the parish devotes much of its time and energy towards meeting its own needs and desires, often emphasizing near-term consumption. Money flows in rivers for flowers at the holidays, to get absolutely blotto at Shrine Mont, and for things like the reception after the Great Vigil. But funds are in short supply to maintain the original elevator, to repave the parking lot, to serve the poor and needy, or to fund the diocese and its outreach into the world.

Most troubling, however, is that the parish, vestry, and diocese have lost any claim to moral legitimacy as they support the pious fraud of Bob Malm’s perjury and other misconduct in his conflict with me,

Unlike Lenin and Stalin, who justified their conduct by arguing that the ends justified the means, Christianity holds to the notion that certain behaviors are always and everywhere wrong. Among them are various actions by the church and Bob Malm, including:
  • Attempting to drag the dying into court absent an absolutely compelling reason to do so.
  • Lying to police, local officials, and church members.
  • Committing perjury.
  • Going after Mike and others not even arguably guilty of any wrongdoing.
  • Urging people to commit suicide.
  • Engaging in smear campaigns involving claims of mental illness and criminal conduct.
Yet Grace Church and its leadership, aided and abetted by Sugarland Chiow and encouraged by Susan Goff and the other knuckleheads at the diocese, steadfastly refuse to acknowledge these sins or their role in them.

Or, when forced to deal with these matters, as in the current litigation, they try to sidestep things by pretending that I made all this up, despite irrefutable evidence to the contrary. Just check out the dozens of Bob’s emails and other church records on this site.

Of course, that’s all part of the Malm paradigm. Deny, avoid, equivocate, attack — just don’t ever take responsibility. Or, if all else fails, make it sound good, pretend like you’re apologizing, then regroup and begin again. In other words, act like a narcissist.

In short, as Grace church moves into its sixth month of interim ministry, there are no signs to suggest that it understands, let alone has come to terms with, its past. Nor does it have any desire to do so. Or as Christine Cheevers put it, “[Bob Malm’s] gone.”

And that is exactly my point. Bob Malm is gone. Now it’s time to deal with his mess,.

Monday, March 2, 2020

BREAKING NEWS: Bishop Susan Goff and Episcopal Church Defend Perjuring Priest Bob Malm in Court




You have to hand it to the Diocese, Bishop Susan Goff and Grace Episcopal. Not only are they morally bankrupt, but they are vigorous in their defense of their right to be morally bankrupt. I mean, where else would you find a church that is litigating to defend a priest who, like Bob Malm, commits perjury, lies repeatedly, tries to subpoena the dying, and more? Even the Catholic Church has moved past the notion that it should defend abusive clergy in court. But in our case, the diocese continues to try to avoid any accountability, as it files a demurrer, claiming inter alia that Bob Malm’s perjury in the previous proceedings and the ethically questionable behavior of counsel Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow, are not sufficient to state a claim of abuse of process.

Of course, in the end there will be accountability. It will come as members increasingly leave the Episcopal Church, as they come to realize that the church has zero claim to moral authority or legitimacy.

My prediction: Given the utter dysfunction in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, we will see the rate of decline accelerate within the diocese over the next few years. And why not? If there’s one thing we learned from 30 years of Bob Malm, there is zero need for the ludicrous clericalism associated with having an overpaid professional Christian serving as a “priest.” Paying some 200k a year, with 6 weeks of paid vacation and $100,000 bonuses is simply insane. And that is particularly the case when less than 3 percent of the church budget goes to serving those in need.

Check out the church’s pleading below.


























































































Tuesday, February 25, 2020

If the Diocese and Susan Goff Were Smart....



Let’s face it. No one’s ever accused the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia at being good at peacemaking, or for that matter, of having much common sense. Between property disputes, the recent ruckus with the Trustees of the Funds, the Title IV debacle at St. Thomas’ in McLean (one of the great examples of how not to handle clergy discipline of all time), and its never-ending dispute with me, about all you can say is that the diocese hires good law firms.

But if the diocese were smart, it would bring in an outside expert, particularly apropos the toxic quagmire that is Grace Episcopal. Specifically, I would recommend that it bring in the Rev. Robin Hammeal-Urban, expert on Title IV, for a stem-to-stern look, both at Grace Church and at Title IV as implemented in the diocese.

Right about now, I can hear you saying, “But you’re the only person who thinks that Grace is toxic.” But the reality is that John Cunningham left for that very reason, as have a great many others. And no matter how you parse it, the plummeting number of pledging units and declining Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) contradict the notion that Grace is a slice of paradise, just waiting to be discovered. 

Part of the problem is that the Diocese has no concept that it must radically change to survive. The good old days of laissez-faire supervision of clergy are over. Moreover, having spent many years in litigation, the diocese is far too beholden to JP Causey and his legal advice. While the latter may be sound from a purely legal perspective, JP has no concept of restorative justice, or what non-sexual abuse is. As far as I can tell, his motto is, “Protect the organization at all costs, and damn the members.” I have seen that play out repeatedly, beginning with the mishandling of my case, continuing through the St. Thomas debacle, and more. After all, any diocese that can say perjury by clergy is not actionable under Title IV absent a criminal conviction is a hot mess and morally bankrupt.

So what would Robin bring? The answer is a fresh perspective, a knowledge of how things are supposed to work, an understanding of restorative justice, and the need to care for the people who make up the church.

As things stand, the diocese is utterly broken, from the hot mess that is Mayo House, to Susan Goff, to the ethical mores held by its clergy. Absent a sea change, the diocese will collapse of its own rot, and that will happen sooner rather than later. And the more tightly the diocese holds onto the past and refuses to confront reality, the faster it moves towards collapse.

As for the diocese’s slow-moving, cumbersome, iterative visioning process and racial reconciliation, we had the racial reconciliation listening sessions in 2015. The fact that five years later the diocese finally is doing something with the results is just embarrassing. In fact, at this pace, this may well be one of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia’s final initiatives before it collapses within the next 30 years.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Important Reminder: Possible Gender-Based Harassment at Grace Church


In the midst of the ongoing litigation involving Grace Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, Susan Goff, and others, there’s an important issue that does not always get a lot of attention. That issue is that my original complaint to the Diocese included concerns about potential gender-based harassment in the parish.

What’s shocking is that, despite that, the Rev. Carolyn Parkinson, once a candidate for bishop diocesan and, at the time, intake officer for the diocese, dismissed my concerns out of hand, saying that they didn’t so much as warrant an investigation. Moreover, she did so with Bishop Shannon Johnston’s support. And she and other diocesan officials ignored Bob Malm’s subsequent retaliation and deliberate misuse of memorial donations to the parish. In her exact words, the allegations are “not of weighty and material importance to the ministry of the church.”

That’s pretty shocking, but there’s more.

Later, Caroline lied, saying that the matter of our exclusion from the church directory had been considered in the summer of 2015. That’s an interesting claim, as the matter didn’t even arise until that fall. As I sarcastically noted at the tine, I was not aware that one of the benefits of ordination was the ability to time travel.

Bishop Shannon also lied, claiming in a letter to the parish that the matter had been investigated and resolved long ago. But the matter was not investigated within the meaning of Title IV, which is the process through which it came to the attention of the diocese. It was brushed off and dismissed as not “of weighty and material importance to the ministry of the church.” The diocese took the same line apropos Bob Malm’s perjury.

So, if you are thinking about getting involved in The Episcopal Church, just know that it talks a good game when it comes to #metoo and #churchtoo. But the reality is that allegations of potential gender-based harassment are something the church considers to be unimportant. Same goes for readily verifiable allegations of perjury by Bob Malm.

So much for the Episcopal church’s claim to be loving, liberating, and life-giving.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Sad News: Mom has Died


My last photo of Mom
Early yesterday, Mom died, literally minutes before I got to her home. The end was peaceful, as she dozed off and simply slipped away. I sat with her for the next several hours, holding her soft, frail hand, telling her I love her. Finally, a medical professional was able to brave the icy roads to declare her dead, and I went to the hotel for a few hours of fitful sleep.

Mom did manage to hang in there much longer than medical experts anticipated, due to both being a fighter and her skill as a retired RN. And she had several things she wanted to see happen before she died, including the end of abusive priest Bob Malm’s fraudulent protective order against me, which expired this past Friday. And she took gleeful pride in seeing photos of me and a small group of fellow protestors last Sunday, directly in front of Grace Episcopal Alexandria, my former church, where Bob Malm was rector for 30 years. Indeed, until the last 24 hours, Mom remained as alert as ever, even though she was unable to communicate.

No memorial service is planned, but if you would like to do something to honor Mom’s life and the love she brought to so many, please share this petition or chip in a few dollars so that others can sign.

My deepest thanks to everyone who has traveled with Mom and me on this most difficult journey.

https://www.change.org/abusivebobmalm

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Breaking News: Grace Episcopal Lawsuit Moves Forward



Earlier today, the Alexandria General District court heard my motion to compel. It also received various motions from Diane DiBlasio, the attorney for Grace Episcopal, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, and Bishop Susan Goff. The defense motions included a motion to dismiss with prejudice and a motion requesting a bill of particulars. The latter sets forth the reasons a plaintiff believes she or he has a legal cause of action.

The only motion on which the court ruled was the request to schedule a bill of particulars. Thus, I will be filing that pleading by the end of January, the defense will file its response by the end of February, and we will hold the next hearing in March.

Afterwards, I had a moment to chat with Diane, who is very professional and capable. My heads-up to her, which I hope informs her efforts and those of her clients, centers around Bob Malm’s perjury during the discovery phrase of my appeal. (Recall that Bob falsely claimed that my mom, or someone purporting to be her, “time after time” contacted him. This he cited as a primary reason he believed mom’s blog to really be mine.)

So, it will be interesting to see if the diocese, Bishop Goff, and Grace Episcopal want to defend Bob Malm’s perjury. That said, if past performance is any indicator, all three will do their utmost to defend his conduct.

It’s also interesting that defense counsel attempted to assert that this is an internal ecclesiastical matter. With the parish having taken the matter to court in the first place, it is difficult to conclude that this indeed is not subject to judicial review. That said, in fairness to defense counsel, she had little to go on.

Bob Malm, perjuring priest.

Grace Episcopal, the clergy perjury parish.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Just Like the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and Bob Malm, Church Ignored Warning Signs in Brian Boucher Case



Before we go further, let me say up front: To my knowledge, Bob Malm is not accused of any form of sexual impropriety.

That said, the case of convicted Canadian pedophile priest Brian Boucher sounds alarmingly similar to my experiences with Bob Malm and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, both in terms of Boucher’s manipulative, possibly sociopathic, behavior and the diocese’s efforts to avoid dealing with the real issues. Indeed, in Boucher’s case, the diocese appears to have taken the matter more seriously than has the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, for the former at least spent time and effort addressing the more obvious signs that Boucher was maladjusted.

In reviewing the Boucher media coverage, the first thing one notices is Boucher’s attention to his physical appearance. Even when headed to jail, Boucher consistently looks put together and carefully pressed. This is very similar to Bob Malm, who often appears inordinately consumed with keeping his SUV clean and polished, his tan, his hair color, and even his efforts to conceal his hair loss via transplants.

Then one transitions to Boucher’s conduct, in which, much like Bob Malm, he attempts to manipulate the world around him to suit his needs. Those of importance to him get attention and flattery, while those unimportant to him get ignored. Similarly, those who expressed concern about Boucher’s conduct found themselves denied access to the church and rectory buildings. Indeed, Boucher attempted to fire one parish employee who spoke out, and multiple families left Boucher’s parish, rather than comply with his manipulative behavior. Such conduct is strikingly similar to that of Bob Malm, even down to trying to deny access to the church building to critics.

Similarly, critics feared Boucher’s temper, which sounds suspiciously like the classic narcissistic rage. Boucher’s attempts at domination and control, much like Malm’s behavior, also seem to witnesses to be antithetical to his alleged calling as a priest.

Then we read about Boucher’s divisive conduct, in which he surrounds himself with a circle of loyalists who protect him and alert him to criticism from within the parish. Again, very similar to Bob Malm.

Turning to the diocese, we see that time and again officials turned a blind eye to the myriad warning signs of trouble. Yes, the church may have spent considerable time and trouble to deal with Boucher’s controlling behavior, but it never was willing to delve further into the issues, including assessing root causes behind the behavior. Indeed, even prior to ordination, those who feared Boucher was unsuited to the priesthood were ignored and brushed off.

This sounds very much like Bob Malm, where some parishioners, even as early as his calling to the church in Portsmouth NH, appear to have recognized that something was not right. For example, when Bob was in New Hampshire, one parishioner allegedly ran for vestry solely in order to see what Bob was “going to do to my church.”  While seemingly innocuous and easily dismissed, that sort of gut reaction to Bob should have been a warning sign.

Similarly, the ongoing flight of pledging units and the departure of numerous former leaders from Grace Church should be more than a warning sign to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia; it should be the equivalent of Cheyenne Mountain’s air raid siren blaring in the night. People don’t pack up and leave a church in which they’re invested for trivial reasons. Instead, when they leave in droves, it’s because something is seriously wrong.

Will the church vestry and the diocese ever comprehend the real issues here? I doubt it. Between thirty years of Bob’s manipulative behavior, the organizational narcissism in the parish, and the inconvenience that would come with addressing Bob Malm’s misconduct, there is little reason for optimism.

For more on Boucher and the church’s attempt to avoid dealing with the real issues, visit the CBC’s investigative report at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/brian-boucher-history-investigation-1.5383177.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Repost: Wondering Eagle Article

Grace Episcopal Alexandria, the clergy perjury parish


The article in the Wondering Eagle blog covering my situation is particularly well done. In light of the present litigation against the parish, the diocese, and Bishop Goff, it seems appropriate to republish this piece. It also appears on a separate page on this blog.

                                                                       # # #

This is a sad post that I wish I didn’t have to get up. This is actually my first venture into mainstream Protestantism. Most of the time I write about evangelical issues, Acts 29, the Evangelical Free Church of America and other topics such as atheism and doubt. I was approached by Eric Bonetti who told me about his situation with Grace Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Virginia. I became sad to hear about what happened and told Eric that he is free to publish whatever he would like to here at The Wondering Eagle. I write quite a bit about churches in the Washington, D.C. area. So this situation falls into that perspective. This story was first told over at The Wartburg Watch. The original post was taken down, and this post stood in its place. “Good Faith Discussions On Both Side Have Led to a Resolution Between Eric Bonetti and Grace Episcopal Church.”

Eric I am sorry this developed. My hope is that you find peace and closure. Also that your family is spared from harassment. Your story gave me hope that I would find peace one day. My hope is that you will find peace. Perhaps this and other blog posts can help bring the Episcopal Church back to the table. Until that develops this blog is yours to use as you see fit.

Rector Files Possibly False Police Report 


Readers of The Wartburg Watch may remember a story from fall 2016 covering allegations of shunning and other spiritual abuse at Grace Episcopal church in Alexandria Virginia. The article recounted reports that rector Bob Malm had instructed clergy, staff, and lay leaders in the parish to shun a parishioner, Eric Bonetti, and members of his family, after Bonetti complained of bullying and gross mismanagement by the rector. To make matters worse, the Episcopal diocese of Virginia, which was promptly informed of Malm’s misconduct, repeatedly ignored requests to intervene.

This post updates readers on developments since the article ran at The Wartburg Watch, as well as recent disturbing actions on the part of the rector. While I am not particularly familiar with the dynamics of mainline denominations, this situation appears to be a particularly troubling abuse of power, both at the diocesan and parish level. Further, the parish’s response, which seems greatly influenced by the rector and his actions, is disturbing.

Background

To update readers, since the article on The Wartburg Watch, the diocese of Virginia intervened. A series of meetings were held, including one in Fredericksburg involving the Rev. Malm, Eric and others. Details have largely been kept confidential, but it is my understanding that the following key areas of agreement were reached:

  • The Rev. Malm would stop shunning and bullying parishioners.
  • Eric would be welcome in the unlikely event he wanted to attend Grace Church.
  • Eric would shutter his blog recounting his experience of being shunned, with the understanding that other members of his family and friends were also blogging about the matter (in his words, “blogging up a storm”), that they likely would continue to do so despite efforts to reduce tensions, and that all involved needed to be okay with that. In short, the agreement applied only to those persons actually in the room.

Given that Eric’s family was not included in the Fredericksburg meeting, it should come as no surprise that several continued to blog, and are doing so to this day. Some of their comments are angry. Some helpful. Some petty. Some funny. But none appear to be defamatory or threatening. Instead, they appear to reflect the normal range of emotions people experience when their trust is betrayed by clergy.

Recent Events 

Flash forward to September of 2017. At that point, Eric became increasingly aware that tensions remained high, and that family members were increasingly irritated by the situation. Specific concerns included:
  • A written suggestion by a parishioner that Eric “go kill himself.” 
  • A written threat by another church member to interfere with his spouse’s employment. 
  • Other inappropriate communications from members of Grace Church. 
  • A “fauxpology” from a clergyperson who previously worked at Grace Church, that among other things inappropriately revealed certain pastoral confidences. 
In an effort to quell things, Eric wrote to the Rev. Malm and the diocese, suggesting that both sides publicly make peace as a way to show that there were no sides to take in the matter. While diocesan officials encouraged this approach, the Rev. Malm brushed aside the suggestion. Not to be deterred, Eric contacted Episcopal Bishop Susan Goff, who similarly refused her assistance.

In November 2017, Eric was contacted by diocesan staff, seeking his assistance in tamping down online criticism of the church from his family. By that time confronted with his own serious health issues, the challenges of two family members nearing end of life, and a busy time at work, Eric declined to get involved, but emailed a series of observations and suggestions to the diocese that he hoped would at least provide a framework for resolution of the conflict.

That seemed to be the end of things.

Then, on December 21, Eric received a call at a non-public work number from SGT Salas of the Alexandria police department. During the conversation, SGT Salas indicated that the Rev. Malm feared for his safety due to the blogging of Eric’s family members. He also suggested that parishioners and even children in the parish were in fear.

Eric declined to get involved, and the conversation ended with SGT Salas allegedly telling Eric, “Until this matter is resolved, you will immediately be arrested if you enter church property. Subsequently, Eric discovered that SGT Salas had left his jurisdiction, traveled to Fairfax County, ignored no trespassing signs at Eric’s condominium, and entered his locked condo building to leave a note on the door. The seeming message, “We know where you are, and we’re watching you.”

Eric immediately filed an internal affairs complaint with the city of Alexandria, complaining of SGT Salas’ efforts at intimidation; his threat of arrest, which was linked to resolution of the conflict; SGT Salas’ involvement in a civil matter involving internal church matters; and his inaccurate portrayal of family member blogs as potentially involving terroristic threats. He also noted that SGT Salas’ threat specifically violated the agreement reached with Shannon Johnston, the Episcopal bishop of Virginia, regarding being welcome at Grace church; and asked that the department investigate whether the Rev. Malm may have filed a false police report, noting that as recently as September that the rector had said no one had mentioned the dispute to him in several months.

The latter seems a particularly good point. If indeed, as recently as September, no one had brought the matter up, how could the Rev. Malm now claim that people, himself included, fear for their lives? Can someone please point me to language or specific conduct that is threatening? If the argument is merely that Eric’s family members are “blogging up a storm,” there is nothing illegal about that. The First Amendment has no limit on the amount or quantity of free speech.

Concurrently, Eric complained in writing to the diocese, which as of this writing has neither responded, nor seemingly taken any action in this matter. That’s troubling: Why would the diocese not at least offer to provide pastoral care or support? If it is serious about resolving the matter, how does silence meet that goal? It seems to me that the diocese is reverting to its old habits of ignoring things and hoping they will go away.

My take on things 

Let’s assume for a minute that the Rev. Malm’s seeming assertions are correct, which is that Eric is in fact the person doing the blogging. Were that the case, Eric still would be entitled to do so, for there is no quid pro quo when it comes to shunning or other forms of abuse. Clergy who abuse their parishioners simply need to stop, and they need to be held accountable. The persons they abuse owe them nothing, and if blogging helps Eric or his family bounce back from their experiences, then that is exactly what they should do.

Second, recent events underscore the need to take church security seriously. But absent a specific threat such that a reasonable person would fear for their safety, Alexandria City police should not get involved in civil matters involving churches. Moreover, linking the threat of arrest to resolution of this conflict seems a clear effort at intimidation, as does calling Eric at non-public work numbers and showing up inside his locked condo building to leave notes.

Third, there are disturbing suggestions that the Rev. Malm himself is the source of this smear campaign. For example, in confidential correspondence dating from 2016, Malm appears to refer to Eric as “unbalanced.” There’s also evidence to suggest that the rector has shared this view with his family members and others, who appear in public fora to have referred to Eric as “sick.” Yet there is no evidence that the Rev. Malm is a mental health expert, or has consulted with one. (Indeed, it is considered unethical to attempt to diagnose a person without meeting him or her.) Even were that the case, comments such as this reflect badly on the Rev. Malm and the entire parish, and are not the way matters of this sort should be handled. Calling the police on a former parishioner is something that should not be done lightly and, if considered necessary, should have been done with the bishop as a full participant in the conversation. That’s particularly the case, when as here, the bishop was personally involved in negotiating the previous ceasefire.

Fourth, it is noteworthy that never once has the Rev. Malm reached out directly to Eric to share his concerns or work towards reconciliation. That in itself speaks volumes. Indeed, when SGT Salas was asked about this, he claimed that the Rev. Malm “fears for his safety,” yet only a few weeks earlier the bishop was trying to reach Eric by phone? If Salas’ assertion is accurate, wouldn’t the bishop have similar concerns?

Fifth, it does not appear that the parish or the Rev. Malm have ever reached out to Eric’s family or friends to apologize, to make restitution, or to otherwise fix things. Why, then, would anyone be surprised that they are still angry and upset?

Sixth, anyone who’s ever dealt with intra-family dynamics knows that they are messy, complicated things in the best of times. No one can or should blame a man who is dealing with family members at the end of life and his own serious health issues for feeling that he can only do so much.

Bottom line, to outsiders, Grace Episcopal Church looks to be a toxic church, petty, hateful, mean spirited, and lacking in personal and organizational integrity. There is no set of circumstances — ever — that justifies Christians urging others to commit suicide, engaging in shunning, or in filing questionable police reports against former parishioners.

My hope for the sake of all involved is that, even if Eric and his family can’t or don’t want to be part of the conversation, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia will take immediate steps to take the high road, end this controversy, and offer a meaningful pastoral response to all hurt by the Rev. Malm and his actions. Clergy involved in this matter need to be held accountable, and the diocese needs to stop worrying about blogs and start worrying about people. As it stands, Eric and his family have every right to be upset with both the diocese and the parish.

As to the Alexandria police department, my take is that it got pulled in by the fact that Bob Malm is a priest, and failed to do its homework. As a result, the department looks bad and has made a difficult situation worse. A public apology certainly would not be inappropriate at this point, and the department should have clear guidelines in place as to what constitutes a “terroristic threat,” and when it will get involved in civil matters involving churches. Bloggers who criticize abusive churches should not be getting calls from the police, no matter how angry, virulent, or frequent their comments, absent specific threats to safety.

Finally, if it turns out that the Rev. Malm did file a false police report, my view is that he should be held accountable both at law and as an ecclesiastical matter. There is no excuse for using the police department for pursuing personal vendettas.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Online Court Case Information

Someone recently asked how they could access independent information on the court case now pending against Grace Episcopal Alexandria, Bishop Susan Goff, and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia in conjunction with Bob Malm’s perjury. 


I will provide information on the other court cases as they are filed.




Friday, November 15, 2019

Breaking News: Grace Episcopal aka the Clergy Perjury Parish, Susan Goff, and DioVA Finally Respond

Breaking news: I have just received notice that DioVA, Susan Goff, and Grace Episcopal, the clergy perjury parish, are represented by counsel. Predictably enough, counsel for the defendants is objecting to the subpoenas previously issued by the court.

In the meantime, I have suggested to counsel that we stipulate that there is no evidence to support Bob Malm’s assertion, made under oath, in writing, while advised by church legal counsel. In other words, that Bob Malm committed perjury.

We’ll see what happens.




Protesting Outside DioVA Annual Convention

Live, from New York....IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE!

Well, not so much. More like it’s me, protesting outside the DioVA annual convention in Crystal City Virginia.

I slept in today, as the weather is ideal for sleeping and I have a busy weekend ahead. But I’ll resurface outside the convention in a few hours. My plans also include filing the Motion to Compel to ask Bishop Goff and Grace Episcopal Church to provide access to various documents relating to my case, including documentation of perjuring priest Bob Malm’s claim, made in writing, while under oath, and while advised by church legal counsel, that my mother, then terminally ill, or someone claiming to be her, “time after time” made appointments with him and no-showed. This he cited as one of the bases for his claim that mom’s blog is threatening.

So, since Malm alleges that this happened repeatedly, there should be lots of documentation — phone records, email, you name it.

My plans also include filing a Motion to Compel against +Goff and the parish. Somehow, I don’t see either being on the up-and-up and responding on their own.


Wednesday, November 13, 2019

See for Yourself: Email to Diocesan Chancellor JP Causey Requests Compliance With Subpoenas

Shortly after I filed suit against Bishop Susan Goff, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, and Grace Episcopal Church, I asked the judge to issue subpoenas against Bishop Goff and the parish. These included a requirement that I be permitted to inspect and copy the relevant documents, including all emails and documents relating to the dispute. Further, I asked to see copies of all documents to support the parish’s claim that my mother contacted Bob Malm repeatedly, and copies of the exact blog posts that the church claims are threatening. 

True to form, the diocese and parish have thus far ignored the court.

Today, I followed up with diocesan chancellor JP Causey and the parish is this email, asking for a response by close of business on Friday.

Early next week I will file a motion to compel against all three defendants.

Stay tuned.