Showing posts with label defamation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label defamation. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Reflections: Ethics, Legal Practice and Representing Lindsey Anders and Leslie Malm

Comment from Twitter About Bob Malm’s Conduct

Earlier today, I received a copy of a document indicating that Lindsey Anders and Leslie Malm are now represented by legal counsel in Alexandria. Out of respect for the attorney involved, I am not yet prepared to disclose the document, nor the identity of legal counsel. I do, however, want to reflect on the challenges facing legal counsel in such situations.

First, let’s look at the ethical issues confronting attorneys. Per the professional rules, these include the duty of candor to the tribunal. That means being truthful with the court, including not permitting deception by silence. Further, the ABA contemplates that attorneys must correct false material evidence, including that offered during discovery. This may take the form of private remonstration, supplemental answers to interrogatories, and more. But if the client fails to correct the deception, the lawyer may be forced to take matters into her own hands, even possibly having to withdraw from representation and disclose the false testimony to the tribunal. And while the rules talk about “actual knowledge,” and “reasonable steps,” neither can an attorney turn a willingly blind eye to client fabrications.

In the case of Bob Malm, I submit that Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow’s conduct failed to comport with these requirements. He knew, or had cause to know, that Bob committed perjury by claiming that Mom, or someone purporting to be her, contacted him repeatedly to set up appointments, then canceled. This simply didn’t happen, yet Bob and his attorney took no steps to correct his perjury. Moreover, the issue is material, as he cites this as one of the reasons for his assertion that Mom’s blog was really mine. Moreover, Bob separately asserted under oath that all of the answers to his interrogatories were true, so he lied a second time. Yet I have seen no evidence to suggest that Sugarland corrected his client’s lies. And then there is Bob’s fabrication that, to his knowledge, only his wife had blogged about our conflict...the list goes on. (Those new to the matter may wish to discover elsewhere in this blog the reasons behind Sugarland’s moniker.) 

Into this ethical morass we have a second issue, which is how members of the Malm family handle conflict. My conclusion is that Bob often gaslights others, or engages in revisionist history. Both Leslie and Lindsey appear to have picked up this habit, although to a lesser extent. Some examples:
  • Leslie Malm’s alleged claim to third parties that I admitted in court that Mom’s blog was really mine, both facially ludicrous and false. 
  • False assertions as to the genesis of our conflict.
  • Leslie Malm’s claim that I have stated that my mother was in her 90’s.
  • Fabrications in which they allege that I have misused church funds, engaged in criminal activity, and am mentally ill.
Woven as a thread throughout is juvenile behavior and ad hominem attacks by the Malms, ranging from comments about my sexual orientation, to remarks about the size of various body parts, to remarks about my mother. None of these are pretty, yet Bob and his family seemingly are all about outward appearance. 

Thus, the perennial issue facing all attorneys seemingly is at play here, which is whether Lindsey and Leslie will be candid and truthful with their legal counsel. Will they admit to their behavior, or will they try to pull a fast one on legal counsel? Past conduct suggests that the answer could well be the latter.

That of course raises other questions, including whether counsel for the diocese will ignore prior courtroom fabrications on the part of Bob and the parish. While both client and counsel may well find this to be a tempting route, the long-term interests of the diocese, the parish, and The Episcopal Church suggest disclosure is the wiser course. Nor is it wise to defend a series of fabrications, misleading statements of law and fact to the courts, ad hominem attacks, and other questionable conduct on the part of Bob Malm, Sugarland Chiow, and the parish.

There’s also the reality that, in litigation, the biggest issues often are non-legal in nature, ill-suited to resolution in the courts. Bob Malm’s strategy of decreeing critics “domestic terrorists,” his ugly and false comments to the parish vestry, to church members, and to others about me (non-privileged, since I was no longer a member of the parish, and I believe made with malice), have caused lasting damage to the church, the diocese, and the bishopric, regardless of the outcome of these cases. Indeed, some of Bob’s ugliest comments were made within the church, and having met with no objection, may illustrate larger issues within the organization. Nor is it easy to defend efforts to subpoena a dying woman in violation of Pennsylvania law.

In short, no matter how long this and the related cases are in litigation, and they could well go on for years, the harm caused by Bob Malm’s misconduct and that of parish legal counsel is largely irreparable. 

Next up: The ethical perils of representing multiple parties.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Breaking News: Additional Lawsuits Filed

Earlier today, shortly after finishing up protesting outside Grace Episcopal with two other persons, I prepared the documents needed to bring lawsuits for defamation against Leslie Malm and Lindsey Malm Anders. I have emailed courtesy copies and will send formal documents tomorrow.

My plan is to pursue punitive damages, so I likely will have to move the suits to a venue with higher jurisdictional limits; the maximum in Virginia is $350,000 per cause of action.

Meanwhile, there’s an additional case a few weeks away against Bob Malm and the parish. I’m also contemplating a defamation case against a member of the parish who has repeatedly engaged in conduct of this sort.

It’s a shame that these actions are necessary, but it seems that litigation is the only thing Episcopalians understand.




Monday, December 9, 2019

See for Yourself: The 2016 Confidential Settlement Proposal that Dysfunctional Bob Malm Rejected

Repost 

With Grace Episcopal Church set to hold its annual parish meeting Sunday the 27th, here’s a potentially useful inflection point. Specifically, in January 2016, through my attorney, I offered to settle the matter in exchange for nothing more than Bob Malm’s written agreement to act like a priest. That’s right — simply stop disparaging me and stop interfering in my participation in the church. Additionally, I asked that the matter be treated as confidential. All things that should be normative for a priest.

Through Sugarland Chiow, Bob rejected my offer, including my request for confidentiality. (I wasn’t aware clergy could pick and choose. Beware.)

As a result, I launched my social media campaign, which continues to this day, and will do so indefinitely. This has proven effective, although I may soon augment it with additional litigation.

Of course, that also underscores a key point: Even when faced with possible litigation and other actions with the potential to seriously damage Grace Church’s standing in the community, Bob Malm, with the advice of Sugarland Chiow, put his own perceived interests ahead of those of the church. Bob wanted revenge for my asking the diocese to mediate our dispute, and he didn’t care what that meant for Grace Church. And today we see the results, with church revenue and attendance down sharply, and all indications suggesting that things will only get worse over time. In fact, he still doesn’t give a red rat’s rear end about the church; his only interest appears to be shutting down criticism long enough to get the hell out of Dodge with his generous retirement in place.

In that vein, now that people understand what really does on behind the scenes at Grace Church Bob, being the manipulative little weasel he is, is playing his usual games, taking words out of context, lying repeatedly, claiming he’s been threatened, and asking the Alexandria police if there is any way they can take away my First Amendment rights. Having been repeatedly told that there isn’t, Bob’s fallback has been to argue “abuse of First Amendment rights,” in his emails to the diocese. And, of course, his old standby, which is to conduct smear campaigns behind the scenes. 

In all of this, of course, Bob conveniently overlooks the fact that that is the very reason for the First Amendment—to engender accountability, including for dirtbags like Dysfunctional Bob Malm. Meanwhile,  our recent litigation included numerous requests from Sugarland Chiow for confidentiality, including his trash settlement offer with — you guessed it — a confidentiality clause. Sorry, kids, that horse has left the barn.

This also touches on the issue of Bob’s real motivations. In that realm, there’s one thing that is abundantly clear to me, which is that, for Bob, it’s just a job. Nothing in Bob’s actions in any way suggests he’s a priest or Christian in anything but name only.

Check out my letter here in PDF.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Potential Interims, Check it Out: More Ugly Comments from the Grace Episcopal Crowd

You really have to hand it to the crowd at Grace Episcopal: Even as the church implodes, they keep up the same ugly rhetoric that got them in trouble in the first place. Meanwhile, our good buddy Lisa G., aka Lisa Gardner, just can’t get it through her head that, even if everything she says were true, this isn’t the way to handle it. But hey, she’s a Christian.

She’s also profoundly stupid. If you’re going to post defamatory content, don’t proffer details that would identify yourself.

Nor does Lisa recognize that her argument is a tu quoque logical fallacy. No matter how you parse it, Bob Malm is a perjurer. Lisa can toss out every ad hominem attack out there, but Bob Malm is still a perjurer.

Wonder how long before Grace drops to 150 pledging units.

Prospective interims, beware. This sort of discourse is part and parcel of life at Grace Church following 30 years of Dysfunctional Bob.


Sunday, March 31, 2019

More Correspondence from Tenth Presbyterian

Today I received more correspondence between Tenth Presbyterian and Phil Snyder. None of it’s pretty, and it thoroughly underscores the lack of a genuine Christian ethos among leadership at the church. Further, I’ll add that Liam Goligher sounds disturbingly like Dysfunctional Bob Malm, including the allegations that Liam has committed perjury. Needless to say, I am dubious about the long-term prospects for any church where this sort of behavior is acceptable. I also question where the good Christians of Tenth Presbyterian acquired the notion that they are authorized to restrict First Amendment rights on public fora, like the sidewalk in front of the church. And, like Bob Malm, the seeming lies about threatening and harassing conduct reflect a thoroughly broken ethical reference point.

I’d also point out, as I have apropos Grace Episcopal, that friendly is not faithful. Bob Malm, and likely Liam Goligher, can be quite personable and engaging, But that doesn’t mean that he has any real faith, and it’s important to recognize the difference. If you support a clergyperson because you like him or her, without regard for their conduct, you are simply worshiping an idol. And turning a blind eye to perjury and other misconduct is to make oneself equally culpable.

Moreover, like Bob Malm and his perjury, the only thing that Tenth Presbyterian has accomplished is to increase awareness of its apparent propensity for bullying and its inept handling of allegations of sexual misconduct. Plus, the church all but guarantees that there will be additional protests and leafleting at the church.

Stupid.






























Sunday, March 24, 2019

Greetings from Historic Christ Church

Sunday greetings from historic Christ Church!

Beautiful weather, and most people have been very nice. As always, a few laughable moments, including:
  • Christine Cheever, a member of Grace Church, mind already made up, who claimed that it’s not possible that Bob committed perjury on the basis that she “knows him.”  Nothing like faith in all the wrong things, eh?
  • One parishioner, who asked how I could perjure “a good man like Bob Malm,” to which I replied, “It happens to be true, and if he disagrees, he’s more than welcome to sue.”
  • Another parishioner, in full-on passive-aggressive mode, who said, “I don’t know what this has to do with Christ Church.” Um, body of Christ, anyone?
  • Several with the nervous but smug half-smile that churchgoers trot out when they don’t know how to respond to something that rattles their stained glass tower.
Of course, no one got the other part right: Inviting the lepers at the gate in for coffee. Only evangelical churches have ever gotten that side of things. I mean, if you’re a Christian, and you see someone hungry, thirsty, or hurt by the church, why wouldn’t you invite him in? Something about as you have done to the least of these. (Clergy entirely avoided me, BTW.)

Oh well. That’s Christianity for you.But again, on the whole folks here are very nice.




Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Check it Out: More Defamation from Lindsey Malm

Wonder if Lindsey realizes that the statue of limitations under Virginia state law is one year from publication? 

Of course, the larger issue is that you only have to look at the children if you want to learn about the parents. So when Bob Malm prattles on with the rhetorical question, “Will our children have faith?”, the answer in his case is that they don’t. Moreover, the values one sees in Lindsey are likely values she learned at home.

Another damning indictment of Bob Malm, Leslie Malm, and Grace Church.




Tuesday, September 18, 2018

More on Grace Episcopal Church and Defamatory Accusations of Collusion

In an earlier post, an individual connected with Grace Episcopal Church suggested that I collaborated with the HVAC vendor during my time as junior warden. A copy of the post is included with this post. Such remarks are stupid, mean-spirited, defamatory, and illustrate just how very toxic St. Dysfunction is.

Several points:

  1. That is a remarkably ugly thing to say given the sorry condition of the HVAC systems at the church, the lack of preventive maintenance (including treating the water on the closed loop, a necessity when operating aluminum condensing boilers on a system with cast iron radiators and pipes), the shoddy work during the 1994 building project, and the numerous issues we had due to the age of the system. In addition, I spent hundreds of hours away from work in order to deal with these issues, and got damned little tangible support for my efforts. Or, put in crass terms, I didn’t see Bob Malm anywhere around when the AES crew and I were on site at 11 PM on several Fridays replacing cast iron HVAC pipes that had rusted out. Yet Bob is the guy earning almost 200K a year; I was the volunteer.
  2. The commenter demonstrates a complete lack of knowledge of commercial HVAC costing and pricing.
  3. Bob and others have absolutely no concept of what was involved when the outdoor loop to Merrow Hall ruptured, including safety requirements when excavating directly on top of a natural gas line and the building electrical service entrance. But then, given his disinterest in the details of the project, hardly a surprise.
  4. The vendor in question, AES, has an impeccable reputation, serving the Mt. Vernon estate, several highly classified locations, Fort Belvoir and numerous Episcopal churches. In addition, Tom, one of the owners, headed up the Fairfax County Office of HVAC licensing and is considered one of the best in the business.
  5. The prior vendor didn’t even do light commercial work and, inter alia, recommended dismantling the building control system, as it was unable to figure out how to service and maintain the system. In addition, bad moves on that vendor’s part, including opening the fresh air intakes wide open while running the HVAC, resulting in massive problems within the building, including condensation and leaks throughout the air handling system.
  6. AES dropped Grace as a client after a series of incidents, including one where the owners had made an appointment to brief Bob Malm on emerging issues with the church HVAC systems. When they got on site, however, Bob gave them the big brush-off—a gesture that was beyond rude. Additionally, the vendor had numerous negative experiences with members of the church office staff and others, and was unwilling to get involved after my successor decided to operate the closed loop without draining it following the pipeline rupture. As a result, sediment in the system caused numerous additional problems.
  7. I have alerted AES to the defamatory remarks posted earlier and told staff there that, if they want to subpoena the IP address and other relevant information needed to identify the poster and file suit for defamation, I am happy to be supportive.
Comments such as this show just how ugly, toxic and dysfunctional Grace Church truly is.




Sunday, September 16, 2018

See for Yourself: More Defamation by Implication by Toxic Grace Episcopal Church

Why do I get the feeling Bob Malm’s gossip is behind this one?

Needless to say, this is one toxic church. And if you are thinking about serving in a leadership role, you should know upfront that this is the sort of thing people say behind your back.




Sunday, August 26, 2018

See for Yourself: Leslie Steffensen’s Irrational Email About Me

One thing about clergy at Grace Church: They have very few qualms about making statements of questionable veracity when it comes to their parishioners.

In the attached email, Leslie Steffensen makes a series of false statements, including:
  • That Mom’s blog is mine (and content in it), despite the facts that:
    • Mom had repeatedly made clear that she is the publisher of her blog.
    • I don’t have children and have never claimed to have children; nor do I want any.
    • I am not female.
    • I don’t drive a minivan.
    • I don’t have pets.
    • I don’t travel to Northern VA from the Midwest.
    • I haven’t been to Manhattan in many years.
    • I don’t refer to myself in the plural.
    • I don’t hang out in Del Ray, except to leaflet or protest.
    • I don’t hang with other family members when they protest or afterwards and have never claimed to do so.
    • The day folks were at The National Cathedral was a day I was at work the entire day, and I have time records and numerous other forms of documentation to prove it, including dozens of witnesses, several of whom have prepared notarized affidavits.
    • I have not been to The National Cathedral in more than seven years; it was shortly before the earthquake. Thus, I have been nowhere near her office, and frankly don’t care to be anywhere close to anything with the word “Episcopal” in it anyway. Nor do I want to be anywhere close to Bob Malm or Leslie Steffensen; if I choose to hang out with clergy, it will be with those who evince some indication that they adhere to Christian values.
    • Nowhere in my blog, or in Mom’s blog, does anyone mention adopted children. Nowhere. 
    • I have witnesses and documentation to prove all these points.
  • That I have made false statements about her. My only comments have been about her comments made during my background check; I have published the transcript here  and that clearly indicates that Leslie has stated that she is “not sure [I] can be trusted with money,” along with other statements intended to damage my reputation. Additionally, I have commented on the well-documented fact that Leslie was fully supportive of Dysfunctional Bob’s efforts to shun us, including denying us access to our own church. The email confirming that also has been published here; a copy is below.

  • That the events in question were, at the time of her email, three years prior. They were not. They dated to 2015, including the latter months of the year and, of course, continue to this day.
It’s these sorts of sneaky, ad hominem attacks behind the scenes and untruthful/inaccurate statements that are how clergy at St. Dysfunction respond when criticized. Never mind that Leslie has never had the integrity to address her concerns directly with me. At a minimum, you’d think, as clergy, Leslie would make damned sure of her facts before writing a stupid and un-Christian email like this. (While Leslie’s talking with her legal counsel, she should be sure to discuss defamation and the phrase “reckless disregard for the truth.” Also, “false statements of fact.”)

But then, given that Leslie once told me (and later repeated her claim in front of others), that she has seen an apparition in the hallway outside the clergy  offices at St. Dysfunction, Kirk Steffensen’s comments about “spewing delusional crap” may strike rather closer to home than he intended. Or perhaps the word “hallucinations” applies. Or maybe this is a case of paranoid schizophrenia. I don’t have any way to know, but I am increasingly concerned for my safety, given Kirk Steffensen’s comments about Mike’s employment, the irrational nature of Leslie’s comments, and her statements about seeing apparitions of the dead. In fact, sounds like an implied threat to me.

The fact that behavior like this is acceptable for clergy in The Episcopal Church speaks volumes as to why The Episcopal Church and St. Dysfunction are dying. Nor are these behaviors all that unusual in churches—they are exactly how abusive Catholic priests respond when someone reports them. Smear the victim, try to discredit the victim, everything except for the sort of accountability that Jesus modeled. Even when Leslie wrote to my Mom to ostensibly apologize for her conduct, she couched things in terms of her “inexpert response” as a new priest. My take, though, is that when it comes to manipulative behavior and refusing to be accountable for her actions, Leslie’s far from inexpert. Indeed, she’s quite adept, and appears to have issues with deep-seated but well-concealed anger. (Just ask her to tell you about her numerous fistfights in high school.)






Friday, August 24, 2018

See for Yourself: Bob Malm’s Comments About “Dysfunction Junction”

Here’s another great example of the real Bob Malm, and the sort of stuff that goes on right behind the scenes at St. Dysfunction, aka Grace Episcopal Church. Check out the reference to “Dysfunction Junction” and Kirk Steffensen’s comments about “delusional crap.”

Ironically, Bob’s bogus police report was allegedly filed by Bob’s daughter — a matter Bob conveniently covered up during discovery. Similarly, investigation suggests that the same daughter has made multiple online posts; Bob also did not disclose this matter during discovery. Questionable ethics, anyone? 

Note too that the Rev. Pat Wingo, then Bishop Shannon’s assistant, is copied, so the diocese was well aware of Bob’s conduct.

And people wonder why The Episcopal Church is dying. Oh, and local members of the National Association for Mental Illness were anything but pleased when I forwarded this to them. Something about disrespect.

#fakechristians




Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Data Shows Bob Malm’s Smear Campaign Doing Nothing to Help Crace Church

One of the ways bullies like Bob Malm try to address criticism is to wage smear campaigns against anyone whom they regard as threatening. In my case, Bob’s smear campaign directed at me contains a heavy dose of defamation, relying as it does on his oft-repeated references to me as “twisted” and “dysfunctional.” And thanks to Bob Malm’s civil action against me, I have copies of multiple written statements to that effect, including discussions involving Bishop Shannon, as well as emails from several well-known parishioners.

That raises the question: Has Bob’s smear campaign benefited the parish at all? The clear answer is no.

Looking at the church’s annual report and related data, the number of pledging units remains down by about 30 percent--its lowest number in decades. Average Sunday attendance remained down in 2017; and the parish register reflects a sharp decline in persons transferring in, but increases in the number transferring out. Bottom line, Bob’s efforts at manipulation have done nothing to offset the reaction to his ongoing abuse of power and boundary issues.

My prediction, too, is that when the dust settles, we will see further erosion of key organizational metrics, particularly as they pertain to church finances. If nothing else, the time and money Bob Malm and Jeff Chiow are devoting to the current frivolous litigation may prove a powerful distraction in the midst of upcoming efforts to increase spending. That is particularly the case when, as in the case of the HVAC project, the expenditure primarily benefits the school, while continuing to ignore the HVAC issues that have plagued the nave and undercroft for decades.

In other words, all signs suggest that whoever becomes the next rector of St. Dysfunction Grace Episcopal Church will inherit a hot mess. 

Lots to blog about in the coming days!


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Bob Malm, Troll

Years ago I had a wonderful, mixed-breed dog named Sugar. She was a gentle, affectionate creature, with some amusing quirks.

One of those quirks was that any time she passed gas, she would turn around, look indignantly at her backside, and pretend like she had no idea what was going on back there. Of course, she didn’t fool anyone, but she felt she had to go through the motions.

And so it is with Bob Malm. His stream of innuendo centered on my mental health, as well as his overt, written claims that I am mentally ill, are both defamatory and painfully obvious. As such, they are an abusive use of the authority entrusted to him as clergy.








Saturday, May 12, 2018

See for Yourself: More Insinuations by Bob Malm About My Mental Health

Bob Malm’s comments in his previous court filing questioning my mental health are not the only such inappropriate comments he has made. In fact, I have received numerous messages that he has sent to various third parties, including an employer, in which he makes these tortious comments. Persons copied on these messages include the Episcopal bishop of Virginia, Shannon Johnston, and other diocesan officials.

Below is an excerpt from message I received this past winter from a friend, who received it directly from Bob.

Again, is this pastoral? Is this the sort of behavior you expect from clergy? Is this the way Jesus would act?



I will post additional documentation on this topic over time. Meanwhile, I have this to say: What is unhealthy is that any member of the clergy would think that this is ethical or acceptable conduct.









Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Defamation and the First Amendment

In an action for defamation, plaintiffs face an uphill battle when they meet the legal definition of a public figure. Under our legal system, the First Amendment creates a high bar for such individuals, who are considered to have voluntarily placed themselves in the public spotlight. In such cases, plaintiffs typically must prove actual malice or a reckless disregard for the truth.

In the case referenced in this post, a California judge ruled that, under this analysis, clergy are public figures. As the author notes, these and similar cases are good news for the burgeoning group of church survivor websites, such as this.

Find the full article at http://danielsilliman.blogspot.qa/2013/03/judge-pastor-not-protected-from-public.html?m=1

Sound familiar?

* Note: An appeals court later held that the trial court misconstrued the public figure doctrine as it applied to this case.