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

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.


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Coming Soon to a Diocesan Convention Near You!

Despite Dysfunctional Bob’s departure, I continue to stand up to the narcissistic bully that is the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. With that in mind, I’m continuing to protest throughout the Alexandria area, including making the rounds of area Episcopal churches, schools, etc. 


I’m also continuing to leaflet and will be making a special guest appearance outside the diocesan convention in November.

The current court order expires in late January, and the following Sunday I and a small group of fellow protestors will be outside Grace Church, just in time for the parish annual meeting. Included in the crowd will be at least two fellow bloggers, and I believe there will be at least one major media outlet reporter in the mix. Shortly afterwards is the first hearing in the Virginia lawsuit, and I anticipate that I will interplead (add) additional defendants at that time.

So, prospective interims, welcome to Planet Malm! See you at Dysfunction Junction (Bob Malm’s rather Christlike description for my favorite protest corner), and on the sidewalk in front of the church. Even better, part of your new church home is named after perjuring priest Bob Malm: The Malm Narthex, aka Perjury Place.

Fun times on Planet Malm!



Wednesday, October 23, 2019

With Grace Church Headed to Court, will Bob Malm Man Up and Admit His Perjury? Doubtful.

Let’s face it. Bob Malm’s good at going after dying women, bullying persons like Mike recently received into The Episcopal Church, ignoring the canons, and making excuses why, after 25 years of his lazy backside, Grace Church still didn’t have the finance manual required by church canons. That said, he wasn’t so good at explaining the thousands of dollars in loose cash and stale checks found in the church office. Nor is he good at accepting responsibility for his misconduct.

So do you think Bob will be a man and admit to his perjury prior to the January court date? Doubtful in the extreme.

Maybe Bob should call his purported friends at the Alexandria Police Department (APD) and have a conversation about the Ninth Commandment. Just in case Bob’s not familiar, that’s the one that says, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” As in Bob’s courtroom perjury.

Or, since he and Susan Goff appear to be pen pals on the subject, maybe she will be kind enough to have that conversation with the police department.

Doubtful on both counts.




Monday, October 21, 2019

Breaking News: Lawsuit Filed

Earlier today, I filed a lawsuit against Grace Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, and Bishop Susan Goff. All parties have been alerted to the importance of maintaining relevant records. In addition, per the existing court orders, I have reminded the defendants that they may not use any material I send them to contact Bob Malm or his family.

Additional defendants likely will be added in the coming days, and subpoenas will go out shortly as well as other discovery requests, etc. 

The initial hearing date is set for January 30, 2020.








Sunday, July 21, 2019

Additional Allegations Emerge About Bishop Shannon Johnston Covering up Sexual Harassment of Women



One of the valid criticisms of The Episcopal Church is that dioceses all too often function like the personal fiefdoms of their bishops. Yes, bishops are elected, and yes there is an elected standing committee, but bishops, like most bureaucrats, tend to surround themselves with sycophants. And this is nowhere more true than in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, where these is both a long track record of backroom dealing, and recent evidence of corruption within the hierarchy. These allegations go all the way to the office of the bishop and include Susan Goff and, to an even greater extent, Shannon Johnston.

Most recently, allegations have again swirled that +Johnston covered up an egregious case of sexual harassment, reported via the Title IV disciplinary canons, involving a member of the clergy under his supervision. While I do not have firsthand knowledge of the specifics of the case, I believe the complainant. Moreover, one thing is abundantly clear, which is that Johnston has shown no care or concern for the woman who was abused. Nor has he provided the pastoral response mandated by church canon in a Title IV case. To the contrary, his only response to the victim has been to state that the matter is “confidential.” That is bogus, particularly since Title IV specifically states that the bishop has discretion to disclose otherwise confidential matters in order to afford a pastoral response to the parties. In this, I sense the baleful influence of Chancellor J.P. Causey, whose primary goal over time has consistently been to protect against potential legal liability, versus doing what is right. (Recall the situation of St. Thomas’ church in McLean Virginia, in which the diocese declined to provide a pastoral response to members of the church hurt by a successful Title IV case, on the grounds that it should not get “too involved,” per the advice of legal counsel. Talk about lack of compassion.) Nor has Bishop Goff done anything to fix this situation,

This sordid episode underscores my earlier point, which is that the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia appears to be okay with almost any form of clergy misconduct that doesn’t involve sex, so long as there isn’t a criminal conviction. And in my case, Bishop Susan Goff has personally signed off in writing on the notion that Bob Malm’s perjury is okay, since there hasn’t been a conviction.

It’s also interesting to compare the current hot mess in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia with the Bishop Bruno debacle. Just as Bishop Bruno was prepared to conduct his Corp Sole activities in secret, pulling in only a small circle of loyalists, so too did Bishop Shannon negotiate his confidential exit package. And while +Bruno publicly released a largely incomplete financial audit, to my knowledge the Diocese of Virginia doesn’t manage even that level of transparency. My concerns are exacerbated by the conflict with the Trustees of the Funds, who inter alia appear to have concerns about the quality of governance within the diocese.

So, my questions to Susan Goff and Shannon Johnston are these:
  1. How would you react if your spouse were sexually harassed? Would you be satisfied with being told by the diocese that the outcome of your complaint is confidential? If not, how would that influence your view of the diocese? Of The Episcopal Church? How would it influence your faith?
  2. Do you really believe that perjury is okay absent a criminal conviction? If not, how do you justify your dismissal of my Title IV complaint against Bob Malm? And what does your response tell me and the diocese about The Episcopal Church? About your personal faith? You routinely recite the baptismal covenant, but do you really believe it? Or is it merely a bunch of empty words? Or words that apply, right up until you can invoke the whole “greater good of the church” routine in your own mind?
  3. In light of the issues with transparency in the Catholic Church, including the emerging scandal in the Diocese of West Virginia, and the debacle in the Diocese of Los Angeles, are you happy with the level of transparency in the diocese? In that context, does the average person in the pew understand how you use church funds? And why isn’t an annual financial audit front and center on the diocesan website?
  4. You appear to readily take advice from J.P. Causey about avoiding potential legal liability for the diocese. But how often do you ask yourself the question, “Is this the right thing to do?”
  5. You were fully apprised of Bob Malm’s efforts to drag my mother, dying of COPD into court, yet you chose inaction. How does that comport with your purported commitment to social justice?
My take: The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia is in major need of an ethics overhaul, in which accountability, transparency, and living out a Christian witness in day-to-day life are priorities. As things stand now, when I look at the Diocese of Virginia, I don’t see the face of Jesus, nor do I see Christian values. Instead, I see institutional narcissism, mendacity, corruption, indifference, and bunch of folks whose primary goal is to make it to retirement, where they will enjoy the church’s generous defined benefit plan.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

++Justin Welby, the Diocese of Virginia, and Abuse: Casual Indifference, Lying, and Bullying as a Common Thread

Archbishop Welby: Breathtaking Hypocrisy

Bishop Susan Goff, Breathtaking Hypocrisy

It’s been an intertesting day for the Church of England. Today was the final day of hearings by the Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse, a commission that is examining the role of the church in child sex abuse. Among those testifying was the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who had been criticized during previous sessions as unfit to lead. His testimony was, to put in bluntly, appalling, and showed that he was, and is, utterly clueless when it comes to abuse. And the really troubling parts of his testimony are startlingly similar to the tactics employed by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and Bishop Susan Goff in their efforts to avoid dealing with Bob Malm’s abusive conduct. Particularly ugly is Welby’s facially false claim he didn’t treat allegations of misconduct involving an adult with “casual indifference,” which is exactly how the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia treats complaints of non-sexual clergy abuse involving adults.

++Welby’s woes center around an unidentified adult complainant, who contacted him while Welby was dean of the Liverpool Cathedral in 2011.The complainant attempted to notify Welby that he was being sexually harassed by a member of the cathedral staff. The result? The abuser remained on Welby’s staff, while Welby barred the victim from the grounds of the cathedral on the basis that he had been threatening to staff, and that the latter were very frightened of him.

Sound familiar? Sure does. It sounds for all the world like Bob Malm’s claim that people at Grace Church are frightened of me. That’s cute, since most only found about Mom’s blog and its supposed threats thanks to — you guessed it — none other than Dysfunctional Bob himself. And in that respect, Bob went to church officials, telling them that his family and staff were, “anxious, sometimes fearful.” At the same time, he got his wife Leslie all spun up; he also was the one who told Leslie about Mom’s blog. And so, back and forth, Bob played his little game of shuttle diplomacy. (Although he did slip up once, telling diocesan officials that his wife and daughter [Lindsey] took the matter far too seriously.

My bet? The abuser on Welby’s staff played this up, or possibly Welby himself. Interestingly, Welby, like Malm, also appears to have made a statement against interest. On the one hand, he claims that staff was frightened by the victim, yet says he would have rescinded the ban had the victim apologized. All I can say is they couldn’t have been all that scared, now could they? And it fails to recognize that victims of abuse, not suprisingly, get really angry, especially when they get the big brush-off.

To make matters worse, Welby told the complainant via email that his account, and that of the abuser, were entirely inconconsistent, and that absent independent verification, he could not assess which was true. That underscores the notion that Welby is clueless, for evidence overwhelmingly suggests that sexual misconduct is rarely falsely reported. And my experience is that people are doubly reluctant to complain when clergy is involved, for they instinctively know that they face a power imbalance. Thus, Welby doesn’t even grasp the dynamics of clergy abuse.

Next comes Welby’s claim that he took the matter seriously. That appears to be total horse crud, as the abuser stayed, and the victim got the heave-ho. On this matter, Welby says he regarded the matter as a disciplinary complaint, not a safeguarding one. So what? Welby doesn’t think adults get abused or sexually harassed? Ironically, in the diocese of Virginia, about the only way to get the diocese involved is to implicate sex; sex is the touchstone for a disciplinary complaint. Be that as it may, nothing in the record suggests Welby took any meaningful action. So yes, it looks for all the world like Welby treated the complaint with “casual indifference.”

Of course, that’s how the Diocese and Susan Goff have treated Bob Malm’s perjury. “Hey, he didn’t get convicted. What’s the big deal?”

Then we have Welby’s claim that he apologized to Matthew Ineson, who allegedly was raped by a Church of England vicar; the latter committed suicide when the allegations came to light. I personally have been in touch with Ineson, and find his evidence convincing that Welby never did apologize, and that his one alleged apology was not even possible, given the larger timeline of events. This is much like the Rev. Caroline Parkinson’s false claim, in writing, that the reference panel in July 2015 considered Bob Malm’s decision to remove us from the church directory. The latter was an obvious lie:
  • Bob did not remove us from the directory until October. Thus, Caroline would have had to time travel.
  • I was given no advisor or written notice from a reference panel. Thus, it either didn’t happen, or failed to follow church canons.
So, I agree with Ineson’s statement that Welby has demonstrated “breathtaking hypocrisy.” And his comments about how the CoE has responded to his complaints exactly mirror my experiences with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia:

“I know from my own experience, and the experience of others, that safeguarding within the C of E is appalling,” Ineson said. “The church has colluded with the cover-up of abuse and has obstructed justice for those whose lives have been ruined by the actions of its clergy. I have been fighting for five years for the church to recognise its responsibilities and I’m still being met with attempts to bully me into dropping my case.”

Yes, ++is engaged in breathtaking hypocrisy. So is the CoE. And The Episcopal Church is equally culpable, with the corruption and hypocrisy extending all the way to ++Curry, +Todd Ousley, +Johnston and +Goff. 

Any church that is willing to lie, deflect, bully, and ignore abuse in this manner is morally bankrupt. 




Friday, May 17, 2019

The Arrogance of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia: A Sign of Decline

Canon Mary Thorpe

It’s amazing, really. At a time when the rate at which The Episcopal Church is shedding members is surpassed only by the losses of the Presbyterian Church USA (and even that is questionable), the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia is going pedal-to-the-metal in its efforts to drive away members. How does it do that? Chiefly through its incredible blind arrogance and belief that somehow people cannot exist without the church. In short, that it is, in the words of Saturday Night Live, “specccial.”

For example, in a letter to me and the other two complainants in one of the Title IV cases, intake officer Caroline Parkinson, after accusing us of “distracting, disingenous, and duplicitous” conduct, prattled on about how there would be no point to a Title IV case, as our alleged conduct would interfere with the Title IV goals of healing and reconciliation. That, of course, does four things:
  • Conveniently overlooks Bob Malm’s misconduct.
  • Assigns blame for the problem in the victims of Bob’s misconduct.
  • Demonstrates an utter lack of understanding of the dynamics of abuse, which is that victims often behave in ways that are not rational or helpful, up to and including things like alcoholism and suicide.
  • Ignores the fact that Title IV applies only to clergy. As in, clergy are always responsible for maintaining boundaries, full stop. And, as illustrated by the +Bruno case, in which allegations swirled about the conduct of parishioners, clergy are supposed to be accountable for their conduct, regardless.
Caroline also violated confidentiality by disclosing a third complaint, and by lumping all three complaints together.

The real cherry on top, though, came  when she reverted to Jesus-babble in her letter, urging us to have the “grace to find a new church.”

Why on God’s green earth would anyone want anything to do with the church after this, including the diocese’s decision that retaliation for filing a Title IV complaint is acceptable?

Then we get to Caroline’s lie, which is that the diocese had already considered the matter of Bob’s decision to remove our names from the church directory the previous summer. Leaving aside the fact that there was no advisor, or communication from the reference panel, which means there likely was no reference panel that summer, the issue of the directory didn’t arise until that fall. All I can say is that I was not aware that the ability to time travel was one of the benefits of ordination. How special.

Similarly, Canon Mary Thorpe, whose husband serves as Executive Director of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, should surely have a handle both on Title IV and the pastoral implications of violating the promises Title IV sets forth to laity. Yet she apparently has said nothing about:
  • The outrageous and appalling conclusion set forth in the most recent Title IV notice of dismissal that perjury by members of the clergy is acceptable as long as there is no criminal violation. 
  • The fact that the diocese has repeatedly ignored the requirement of a pastoral response in all Title IV cases, including those involving dismissal. (Indeed, mapping out a pastoral response should be one of the first things to happen when a complaint is filed. But I guarantee you that the diocese has done nothing in this regard. Indeed, a pastoral response should be implemented from the moment a complaint is filed.)
  • The fact that the diocese itself has repeatedly breached confidentiality in this matter, including through its violation of the Title IV whistleblower provisions.
Yet she wants to try to insist that I should keep the diocese’s actions confidential? All I can say is I call BS on that one. It takes a special kind of arrogance for the diocese to repeatedly violate Title IV in all directions, yet try to apply those very same provisions to laity. This, despite the fact that with the exception of one provision, Title IV expressly doesn’t apply to laity. 

What’s really sad, though, is that we have clergy, aka professional Christians, who get paid to do this stuff full-time, who consider Title IV so unimportant that they don’t bother to learn its requirements, or to follow them. And doubly sad when I, as laity (if that’s what you want to call a former Christian), am far more familiar with the provisions of Title IV than they are.

And for the record, this is not the only time that the Diocese has ignored the Title IV requirement of a pastoral response. In the case of the lovely small church of St. Thomas’ in McLean, the diocese violated not only every best practice out there (including having Pat Wingo show up unannounced to tell people that the rector had been suspended), but it adamantly refused to do anything to care for the parish in the aftermath.

Why? Per Bishop Shannon, it was because diocesan chancellor JP Causey had told them not to get too involved due to fears of legal liability. All I can say is that’s pretty rich, coming from a chancellor who oversaw litigation in which the diocese bloviated on for years in the courts about the applicability of church canons to its constituent parishes. And no, there is no allegation of wrongdoing within the parish itself. And yes, it was nice that +Shannon apologized, but having not done anything to actually repair the damage, the gesture was purely symbolic.

In the meantime, a number of parishioners have left St. Thomas’, several of them life-long members, yet no one has ever reached out to them to care for them or attempt to fix the hurt that the diocese has caused. Proof that, as laity, we’re supposed to keep our mouths shut and send money, nothing more. And if we leave, we are of no consequence to the diocese. Next customer, window three, step right up.

The great irony in all of this is that these situations have created a deep well of knowledge and of pain among those hurt by the church. If the diocese had half the common sense God gave a goat, it would follow the lead of one of the dioceses in California, which ultimately invited friends of mine who had left the church due to abuse to serve on its advisory panel for preventing abuse. As is often pointed out within nonprofits, your critics are often your most useful allies, if you can lean into things and not feel threatened. But the church is nowhere near that self-aware.

With that in mind, it’s time I think for the diocese to engage in a period of introspection and repentence. Much of the harm it has caused in recent years is irreparable, and signs suggest that things are going to get worse, not better. But ignoring the problem will only allow it to fester.

For example, when the day comes in the not-distant future that Dysfunctional Bob packs it in, Grace church is headed for a period of turmoil. No matter how skilled an interim may be things will get ugly, especially when folks eventually realize just how problematic Bob Malm was and is. Having a priest for 30+ years who considers it nothing but a job, and who exploited the church shamelessly for his personal needs, is not a good situation for even the healthiest of churches, and Grace is far from healthy. But neither the parish itself nor the diocese see this, so there’s a storm lurking just over the horizon. Yikes.

Will the diocese reverse course and take my conflict with Bob seriously? Not bloody likely. Nor does it perceive any need to actually follow Title IV. And it is so blindly narcissistic as an organization that it has no concept or empathy for the pain it has caused and continues to cause. Moreover, just like individual narcissists, who often wind up late in life being profoundly isolated and alone (as appears increasingly likely for Bob Malm), it doesn’t realize that it’s sowing the seeds for its own destruction, for this sort of conduct inevitably causes organizations to rot from within.

That’s particularly troubling in light of +Goff’s progressive creds, as well as her academic background in psychology. One would think she, of all people, would recognize the looming problems, but she appears to have no insight beyond the tactical, day-to-day business of the rapidly dwindling diocese. Yes, she is a better tactician than +Johnston, but that’s not saying much. Indeed, the hot mess that was the diocese’s effort to find a bishop transitional should be of profound concern at every level in the organization, as it shows that problems are both systemic and structural. 

The fact that, even at the highest levels, the diocese can’t see the forest for the trees, and doesn’t recognize just how troubled it is, bespeaks an organization that is ill-prepared for the future—a future that will be marked by sharply declining revenue and membership. And until it actually cares for its members — even those who, like me, it both dislikes and distrusts — and demonstrates an ethical worldview marked by something more than empty Jesus-babble, the diocese will continue to crumble.

Not a pretty sight.





Monday, April 8, 2019

See for Yourself: Despite Scandal, the Catholic Church is More Ethical than The Episcopal Church

As those familiar with my conflict with Bob Malm already know, in July 2015 the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia dismissed my Title IV complaint against Bob Malm. What does that mean in real-life? It means that my allegations, which included potential workplace harassment and clear retaliation by Bob for complaining, are not, per the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, even arguably violations of church canons. Indeed, even with the recent change to Title IV, which specifically forbids retaliation, the diocese does not view Bob’s conduct as being within the aegis of conduct unbecoming clergy, and thus actionable.

Before going further, you should note that the this decision was communicated in writing by the Rev. Carolyn Parkinson, then the diocesan intake officer.

That’s also really troubling.

Not only is retaliation illegal at publicly traded companies, but Bob’s conduct would expressly violate Catholic written “safe environment” policy, which requires inter alia that:
  • Clergy refrain from creating or permitting an environment in which harassment of any sort is allowed.
  • Clergy treat all persons with dignity and respect, and avoid intimidation, including verbal and written.
  • Clergy provide an environment marked by fairness and justice.
  • All involved take allegations of harassment seriously.
Guess that would preclude stating that harassment is not a violation of church canons, yelling at volunteers in front of others, permitting staff to do so, lying about parishioners, committing perjury, calling your parishioners “domestic terrorists,” or trying to drag the dying into court.

It is a sorry state of affairs when the Catholic Church takes the moral high ground versus the supposedly inclusive Episcopal Church.

The following screen caps are from Catholic Safe Environment policies:






See for Yourself: Despite Scandal, the Catholic Church is More Ethical than The Episcopal Church

As those familiar with my conflict with Bob Malm already know, in July 2015 the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia dismissed my Title IV complaint against Bob Malm. What does that mean in real-life? It means that my allegations, which included potential workplace harassment and clear retaliation by Bob for complaining, are not, per the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, even arguably violations of church canons. Indeed, even with the recent change to Title IV, which specifically forbids retaliation, the diocese does not view Bob’s conduct as being within the aegis of conduct unbecoming clergy, and thus actionable.

Before going further, you should note that the this decision was communicated in writing by the Rev. Carolyn Parkinson, then the diocesan intake officer.

That’s also really troubling.

Not only is retaliation illegal at publicly traded companies, but Bob’s conduct would expressly violate Catholic written “safe environment” policy, which requires inter alia that:
  • Clergy refrain from creating or permitting an environment in which harassment of any sort is allowed.
  • Clergy treat all persons with dignity and respect, and avoid intimidation, including verbal and written.
  • Clergy provide an environment marked by fairness and justice.
  • All involved take allegations of harassment seriously.
Guess that would preclude stating that harassment is not a violation of church canons, yelling at volunteers in front of others, permitting staff to do so, lying about parishioners, committing perjury, calling your parishioners “domestic terrorists,” or trying to drag the dying into court.

It is a sorry state of affairs when the Catholic Church takes the moral high ground versus the supposedly inclusive Episcopal Church.

The following screen caps are from Catholic Safe Environment policies:






Monday, November 5, 2018

DioVA Plans Listening Sessions, I Call Bullcrud

When I was a kid, a family member commonly  used the phrase “a day late and a dollar short.” This words come to mind as Bishop Susan Goff now takes on the ecclesiastical authority for the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and announces that she will begin a series of “listening sessions” across the diocese. All of which is a nice way of saying that the listening sessions are a bunch of hogwash. A complete waste of time for all involved.

Why do I say that? Because +Susan, and the rest of the Mayo House crowd, has been well aware of Bob Malm’s antics over the past three years and have consistently refused to do anything about them. That begs the question: Why even have a bishop if they can’t so much as ensure that church is a safe place?

Indeed, +Susan is well aware of Bob’s perjury; his efforts to drag my mother, dying of COPD, into court; and more. In fact, she refused to get involved when I asked her to help mediate rising tensions with Bob Malm, even though Pay Wingo had suggested I reach out to her if help was needed in this area.

In short, why bother with listening sessions if the diocese won’t even address clergy misconduct?  What an absolute waste of time! If the diocese wants to mend its ways, why not start with the issues it already knows?

Bishop Goff, please don’t offer false hope. DioVA is utterly indifferent to the welfare of its members, and you can quote me on that. Moreover, you and the rest of the Mayo House fat cats have demonstrated this repeatedly, so let’s not waste time on such silliness.







Saturday, September 1, 2018

See for Yourself: I Confront the Episcopal Bishops of Virginia over Bob Malm’s Lies to the Circuit Court, Inappropriate Comments

Earlier today, I contacted Bishop Shannon Johnston; Bishop Susan Goff;  and the national intake officer for Title IV, Bishop Todd Ousley via email to alert all involved of Bob Malm’s lies set forth in his most recent court filing. In the filing, sent to the Alexandria Circuit Court, Bob told three lies:
  1. That I have violated the existing protective order.
  2. That I was never a police officer.
  3. That I was never admitted to practice law.
As documented in my previous post, all three are flagrantly false.

Copied on the email were my two attorneys, as well as my friend Dee Parsons, publisher of The Wartburg Watch. The latter will be running an update in the coming weeks about Bob’s behavior since December 2017, including his filing of a bogus request for a protective order against me.

Will Bishop Shannon do anything about Bob Malm’s lies? Doubtful, given that he himself has falsely claimed that these matters were “investigated and resolved long ago.” But the reality is that Title IV intake officers do not have investigatory powers, and are not trained as investigators. Their only investigatory powers extend to making a preliminary inquiry in order to “understand the matter complained of.” If a matter requires investigation, it is sent out for investigation, which never happened. Instead, the matter was brushed off, dismissed out of hand, and without the pastoral response (which is not the same as pastoral care) required under Title IV.

Additionally, when Bishop Shannon and I met with Bob Malm in person, we all agreed that our ceasefire only extended to those parties in the room. In short, it did not include Mike, Mom, or anyone else. Thus, one cannot say that a conflict has been resolved when only two of the principals were involved.

Moreover, when the diocese was previously notified of Bob’s various falsehoods, including perjury, it stated in writing that these matters were not “of weighty and material importance to the ministry of the church.” 

As a result, I have concluded that both the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church overall are morally bankrupt. If bullying, harassment, shunning, lying and perjury aren’t actionable, what the hell is? Indeed, at this point, Bishop Shannon has stated in writing that he supports Bob Malm, so it logically follows that he supports these behaviors. Nor has Bishop Shannon retracted his written statement. 

Moreover, given the recent allegations that have emerged that Bishop Shannon covered up the sexual harassment of a female church worker by a priest under his supervision, sexual harassment appears to be acceptable as well.

In short, The Episcopal Church is every bit as broken as the Catholic Church, and Bishop Shannon appears to be every bit as corrupt as any of the Catholic Bishops; his only interest is in protecting the church’s reputation, and he doesn’t get a red rat’s rear end about who gets hurt in the process.

The Episcopal Church has no relation whatsoever to the teachings of Jesus.

Attachment:







Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Rumors About Bishop Shannon

Someone recently asked me about +Shannon, and rumors swirling about the abrupt news of his departure, as well as the recent departure of other key personnel in the diocese. Specifically, I was asked if the allegations about +Shannon potentially covering up a case of sexual harassment have anything to do with another recent departure, presumably that of Pat Wingo.

By way of clarification, the allegations to which I am referring do not in any way suggest that Pat Wingo engaged in sexual harassment. 

More than that I cannot say, except that +Shannon has a dubious track record when it comes to dealing with clergy misconduct. That includes his whole approach of, “tell the wardens about it.” But as anyone who ever worked in HR knows, there are times when, for a variety of reasons, those experiencing abuse or harassment simply cannot deal with the issue locally, or with these directly involved. In those situations, it is highly inappropriate to insist that they do.

In my case, I can also say that +Shannon has turned an appallingly blind eye to Bob Malm and Jeff Chiow’s actions, and the damage they are doing to The Episcopal Church. As a result, it is fair to ask, “Why even have a bishop if he or she won’t deal with clergy misconduct? In what sort of sick religion is it okay to bully the dying? In what sort of church is it okay for clergy to refer to their own parishioners as “sick,” “twisted,” and “dysfunctional,” as Bob Malm has done?”

Indeed, per the diocese, bullying, workplace harassment, and deliberate misuse of church funds are not of weighty and material importance to the ministry of the church. I have it in writing, reviewed and approved by Bishop Shannon personally.

My opinion is that all of this points up a larger truth, which is that we are really seeing just how troubled the Diocese of Virginia and Grace Episcopal church have really become. And no wonder Bob Malm doesn’t want to tell parishioners that this sort of thing is inappropriate—it’s his modus operandi, even if done behind the scenes. Something about a house divided....