Monday, March 2, 2020

Update: Grace Episcopal Files Demurrer and Proposed Order in Court Case

Earlier today I learned that Grace Episcopal Church and the diocese have filed a demurrer and proposed order in my case. While I have not yet received a copy, a demurrer generally asserts that a factual claim is accurate, while irrelevant to the underlying point. My bet is that litigation counsel will claim that Bob was not acting as agent for the church and diocese, despite the fact that he clearly held himself forth as such. Indeed, Bob told Dee Parsons that he and the parish leadership decided to pursue a protective order.

Of course, that creates a conundrum for the parish. If it succeeds in court, then it is stuck with me opposing it for years to come. And right now, the sorry state of the parish is such that it doesn’t have years left to leave its misconduct unaddressed.

I’ll post more as soon as I have it.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Important Reminder: No Contact. Yes, that Includes You, Christine Cheevers

Well, it’s a shame, but apparently I need to repeat my earlier written requests to the parish, in which I indicated that church members, staff, and clergy are to have no further contact with me pursuant to Virginia Code § 18.2-60.3.

Under that provision, contacting someone after he or she says they do not wish to be contacted is prima facie evidence of stalking.

In other words, I do not want to hear from Christine Cheevers, Sally Schneider and her family, or others with their silly drivel about how Bob Malm is gone, how I’m being hateful, or their other nonsense.

Yes, he is gone, but the church has fully supported Bob’s perjury, smear campaigns, witness tampering, courtroom fabrications, efforts to go after Mike, attempt to drag my terminally mother into court,  and other misconduct, even going so far as to name part of the building after him. 

As long as the parish lies by omission and refuses to tell the truth about Bob’s conduct, we have nothing to discuss. And that includes members who continue to pledge, donate time, and otherwise support a parish that tries to drag the dying into court, where the rector lies under oath, and more. I have no patience for people who think they can shrug off these issues.

Yes, I get that it would be convenient for the parish if I were to drop my opposition to its conduct, but life doesn’t work that way. And parishioners who advocate that sort of cheap forgiveness are exactly the reason the parish is in a state of precipitous decline. They have very little understanding of forgiveness, reconciliation, or even the message of the gospels.

Until the parish learns to take responsibility for its conduct, and that of its rector, its vestry and attorney Sugarland Chiow, I will continue to oppose its conduct. And I will file criminal charges in record time against Christine or anyone else who contacts me despite my request.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Grace Church Still Amateur Hour When it Comes to the Physical Plant, Demonstrates Poor Stewardship

 Burst HVAC line due to non-code compliant underground line, resulting from inadequate supervision of 1994 vendor

Mold in record storage closet due to chronic HVAC leak

One of the things that’s really troubling about Grace Church is the sloppy stewardship it demonstrates when it comes to the resources entrusted to it. This particularly is true when it comes to the physical plant.

Even a cursory review of the outside of the building reveals that the photo cells are burned out on the LED floodlights outside the library and the can lights outside the lower entrance. While the lights are LEDs and thus use relatively little electricity, there’s no point in wasting the latter. Moreover, replacing the photocells is something almost anyone can do, and it’s not expensive.

There’s also evidence of badly done repairs, including the stone cap for one of the buttresses facing Russell Road, which was reattached with cement, versus mortar. The caulking is poorly done in the columbarium using products of varying colors, weeds are rampant, and much of the clearing work Deborah Crabtree and her volunteers did is not being maintained.

Nor has the church maintained a list of vendors. For example, there’s ample documentation on how to reach the mason who originally built the church. He charges rock-bottom rates (no pun intended), since they are repairs for a structure he built, and he redid the slate outside the old narthex back in 2013. Yet when the steps were repaired, no one appeared to know who did the work when the damaged slate areas were recently repaired. Why?

Meanwhile, I’m prepared to bet that the necessary annual maintenance hasn’t been performed on the hot water heater. This inevitably results in rapid failure for instant-on heaters like the one serving the complex.

Of course, there are issues with other deferred maintenance, including:
  • Rotting rake boards and exterior trim.
  • Double-pane windows from the 1994 construction project, all of which are past actuarial life.
  • The two EPDM roofs, both of which are at actuarial end of life.
  • The Merrow Hall roof, which was a half-baked job to begin with, and is at end of actuarial life.
  • The new narthex roof, which is overdue for replacement.
  • The parking lot lights, which are at end of actuarial life and technologically obsolete; replacement with LEDs would pay for themselves within a year.
  • The parking lot and circle, which are overdue to be repaved. I had planned for donations to cover the cost, but stupid behavior on the part of Chris Byrnes made the project impracticable.
  • Original copper plumbing, all of which is at end of actuarial life.
  • Existing original wiring under the choir loft, in the library, and in the nave/chancel. This is old and potentially hazardous.
  • The original elevator, drastically overdue for a rehab.
  • The finish work in the bathrooms, updated in 1994, is at end of actuarial life and looking very dated.
  • The stamped concrete floor in the nave (not actually slate) needs to be resealed.
Speaking of energy efficiency, replacement of the HID lights in the parking lot, including the parapet floodlights; the post lamps in front of the church; and in the auditorium would greatly reduce energy use and pay for the project in less than a year. And while energy efficiency improvements are less dramatic when it comes to fluorescents, deployment of plug-and-play LEDS in the coffer lights throughout the building would reduce carrying costs and energy consumption. In addition, doing so would free up labor for other, more important issues.

Even worse, to my knowledge no one has followed up on David Adams’ recommendation to do a replacement reserve study. As a result, there are still hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of work that will be needed in the next five years, and the vestry and other parish leadership has, at best, an amorphous understanding of these issues. (It’s also worth mentioning that I paid for a professional capital reserve study in 2014 out of my own funds, but did not give it to the church due to bad behavior by Bob Malm, Lisa Medley, Alison Campbell and Jan Spence. Too bad, so sad, but if you’re going to act like idiots, I’m not going to help you.)

Much of this work is of much higher priority than the stained glass windows, but with no formal replacement reserve study, these decisions are made based on the whim du jour. Further, the parish has absolutely no concept of aligning anticipated expenditures with saving—the two are entirely unconnected, and when they converge, it’s a purely tactical event.

What’s particularly troubling is that Amy Medrick has property development and management experience. Thus, as parish administrator, these are the sorts of issues she should be championing. Otherwise, it’s only a matter of time before the completely expected issues with the HVAC systems, which caught the parish by surprise because folks had been wandering around with their heads in the sand, are replicated elsewhere in the building. And while I like Paul Bellantoni and his family, his time would be better spent worrying about the physical plant, versus taking pictures of me.

Of course, this is a long-standing issue with the parish. Much like the flooding in the boiler room for the nave, which was ignored for years and resulted in a section of wall collapsing, the church treats these issues as out of sight, out of mind.

The reality, however, is that deferred maintenance is inevitably more costly than preventive maintenance. In fact, the latter often increases the cost hundreds of times over, like the cost of waterproofing masonry versus allowing it to spall, decay and collapse. Yet the church appears indifferent to the need to be a faithful steward of its resources, despite claims by the church to the contrary.
Spalling and corroding rebar, which will eventually cause collapse 

Nave furnace room flooding and mold

Saturation of interior trim due to flooding resulting in mold
Leaking parapet resulting in drainage three stories below
 Avian nest, fecal material and urine in sacristy ceiling create risk of disease transmission 
Uninsulated sacristy ceiling is profoundly energy inefficient and creates uneven temperature 
Severe molding of dropped ceiling in vesting rooms due to deteriorated/missing insulation on HVAC refrigerant lines

Rust, mold and decaying organic material near air handler

Friday, February 28, 2020

BREAKING NEWS: Petition Seeking Full, Fair, Independent Investigation of Perjuring Priest Bob Malm Passes 5,000 Signatures

My petition seeking a full, fair, independent investigation into perjuring priest Bob Malm’s conduct has zoomed past 5000 signatures. As a result, signatures equal 7.28 percent of the 2018 membership of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, which fell to 68,902 members, down 13 percent over a ten-year period.

Signatures equate to 9.18 percent of the 2018 membership of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, where perjuring priest Bob Malm now serves as interim at St. Gabriel’s, Marion.

Total signatures are more than 5 times the total 2018 membership of Grace Church.

Meanwhile, the diocese, which is unwilling to address Bob Malm’s perjury, says it’s forming a Committee on Reconciliation. But how can the diocese hope to achieve any sort of reconciliation when it is consistently unwilling to speak the truth?

Hypocrisy, thy name is Episcopal.

Bob Malm and Sugarland Chiow: A Painful Lack of Common Sense

You have to hand it to Bob Malm, Sugarland Chiow, the Grace vestry and the diocese: None of them have half the common sense God gave a goat. Not Christian ethics, not Christ-like behavior. Just good old-fashioned common sense, like don’t stick your finger in a light socket. Or don’t dive into a swimming pool if you’re not sure there’s water in it. Or don’t wander around in the dark if you don’t know where the stairs are.

Specifically, I’m thinking of my conflict with Bob Malm. Both Bob and the parish would have been far better off had Bob heeded my July 2014 warning to quit the fun and games. Or if they had taken me up on my offer in 2015 to settle our dispute in exchange for nothing more than an agreement to leave me alone; through Sugarland, Bob refused my offer.

Then there’s the matter of our previous ceasefire. Bob specifically agreed that he understood that our agreement only extended to me. Not to Mike, not to Mom, not to others. Yet in no time flat he was back to his fun and games, trying to manipulate people on all fronts.

Then there’s the matter of Bob Malm’s perjury. Did he really think that was going to work? His daughter Lindsey allegedly called the police over a post on Fairfax Underground that she didn’t like, and next thing you know Bob has pulled the parish in right behind Lindsey. Smooth move, Bob.

Then we got to Sugarland’s inflammatory rhetoric and courtroom fabrications. Because court filings generally are open to public inspection, much of that is now a public record, available for all the world to see. Did he really think calling me a “domestic terrorist” was going to help the church? Folks seeing that sort of nonsense wind up rolling their eyes and heading for a church with a slightly more, um, Christian ethos. Or leaving church altogether.

And of course the diocese has trashed its own reputation by claiming that clergy perjury is okay unless criminal charges are involved. Facially amoral positions such as this make clear that the diocese is nothing but a badly run nonprofit. Same for the blind eye the diocese turned towards Bob Malm and his efforts to drag a dying woman into court. Did anyone really think that would end well for Bob, the parish or diocese?

In short, there’s nothing even arguably Christian about Bob, the parish or the diocese. One has only to look at their conduct to realize that the Episcopal church is morally bankrupt and mired in the filth of its own hypocrisy. As a result, I predict that, absent a sea change, the forecast that TEC will have no Sunday worshippers in 30 years will come true much sooner for Grace Episcopal and the diocese.

There’s simply no longer any good reason to be a member of The Episcopal Church. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Check it Out: More Lenten Hypocrisy from Bishop Susan Goff

You have to hand it to bishop Susan Goff and the other fat cats at Mayo House—they have real chutzpah. The sort that just makes me laugh at their hypocrisy.

In her Lenten message, Bishop Susan Goff gases on about the winter of our souls, and the spring-like blossoms that can be found if we look. She cites several examples, most notably: “in the reconciliation that comes when we dare to listen without judgment and speak without reproach..”

That begs the question: How does this comport with brushing off Bob Malm’s perjury by saying you’ll only take action if he faces criminal charges? Doesn’t charity start at home? How is brushing off misconduct “listening?”

If that is the best she can do, Susan Goff would do all involved a favor by retiring.

Hey Grace Church—It’s Lent!

“If It’s Inconceivable, It’s Unperceivable”

Someone recently asked me if folks like David Crosby will ever recognize that Bob Malm committed perjury and otherwise abused his office. The answer to that question is no.

As Robin Hammeal-Urban says in her book on clergy misconduct, there’s an old saying among church judicatories, “If it’s inconceivable, it’s unperceivable.”

That means that this who cannot accept the notion that Bob Malm is a perjurer and bully will simply never be able to accept the fact that he is, no matter how clear the evidence. David’s faith has its roots in his friendship with Bob, and it’s simply not possible for him to admit to himself that Bob is a fake, a fraud.

As Robin notes, that are others who will vacillate between believing that Bob engaged in misconduct, and believing such conduct to be impossible on his part.

Her conclusion:
It is essential that congregations find ways to embrace all members regardless of differences in their experiences of misconduct. To help a faith community come to terms with congregational misconduct, members need accurate, timely information about the transgression(s) and opportunities to process that information as a community.
Of course, we all know that won’t happen. 

Susan Goff, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, and parish leaders are all committed to a policy of denial and evasion. No evidence to the contrary will ever be sufficient to engender a meaningful response from these so-called leaders.

As a result, I now fully believe that the parish and the diocese ultimately will collapse from their own internal rot and ethical decay,

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.

Another Reason to Avoid/Leave Grace Episcopal

As I’ve pointed out many times on this blog, the level of discourse at Grace Episcopal Church reveals just how very toxic the church is.

Below is a screen cap of a defamatory posting, believed to come from Lisa Medley’s circle. The fact that mocking a dying woman is considered acceptable at Grace Church, along with false and defamatory comments alleging domestic violence, tells you all you need to know about this sad, dysfunctional, toxic, dying church.

And in just a few hours, parishioners will do the Ash Wednesday thing, with absolutely no sense of irony or hypocrisy.

A Shout Out to Folks at St. Gabriel’s, Marion Massachusetts

If you are a member of St. Gabriel’s church in Marion and you’re reading this, good for you. You support the church, financially, through your time and labor, and in many other ways. It is your church and you have the right to expect the highest standards of conduct by your staff, clergy and elected leaders.

With that in mind, I have some advice for you about Bob Malm, possibly worth exactly what you paid for it.

First, let’s recognize reality, which is that people are surprisingly consistent over time. That means it’s highly likely that Bob Malm has already trotted out his usual smear campaign. Doubtless he’s told you that I’m disgruntled, “dysfunctional,” that I threatened him, and more. I could go on, but you get the idea.

Second, Bob probably is charm bombing you. Smiles, hugs, references to how happy he was growing up in Marion, and more. (Never mind that he listed his hometown as Jekyll Island when he attended Tabor.)

All of that means that it’s important to step back and take a dispassionate look at things. Friendly is not the same as faithful, although the two often are conflated.

Take a look at the facts.
  • Fact: Bob tried to drag a dying woman into court.
  • Fact: Bob Malm lies to vestry members, bishops, parishioners, and courts alike. For example, he claims I left Grace Church on my own. If that’s the case, why then did he find it necessary to send me an email telling me to get lost? (In a meeting with Bishop Shannon Johnston, Bob admitted that his email was retaliatory saying, “When someone does something to me, I do something to them.” How’s that for Christian?)
  • Fact: Bob failed to meet even basic standards of Episcopal governance while at Grace Church. For example, after more than 20 years on the job, he still did not have a finance manual as required by canon. He also interfered with the functioning of the vestry, appointing the executive committee in violation of diocesan canons. The canons call for the vestry to elect its executive committee, not for the rector to select it. And a vote up or down for the entire slate counts as an election only in North Korea, so don’t let Bob pull the wool over your eyes by telling you that the vestry votes on the matter.
  • Fact: Bob is a bully who tries to yell and intimidate people when he feels threatened. For example, ask him about his screaming fit at vestry member Lee Meeks over Shrine Mont governance issues. Or the time he approached me on Russell Road in Alexandria, screaming and making threats.
Of course, Bob will respond to these issues with his usual claims of, “defamation, slander,” even though he has only an amorphous understanding of what these words actually mean.

That said, this blog provide plenty of documentation concerning Bob’s conduct. Read it. Draw your own conclusions. Don’t be taken in.

And if you want to get to the heart of the matter, ask Bob for any scrap of evidence to support his claim that my mother, or someone purporting to be her, set up appointments with him and then no-showed. It simply didn’t happen, yet Bob has stated in writing, under oath, while advised by church legal counsel, that it did. Moreover, his claim goes to the heart of his claim that I threaten himed, so it is material. In other words, Bob Malm is a perjurer.

By the way, I am not impugning Bob Malm’s integrity. I am stating directly that Bob Malm is a perjurer. The fact that he remains clergy in good standing is shocking, repugnant and appalling. Moreover, the Diocese of Virginia has had plenty of opportunity to deal with Bob and his perjury. It chooses not to do so.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Diocese of Western Massachusetts Response to Allegations of Abuse Stands in Sharp Contrast to that of DioVA and Susan Goff

Earlier today, the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts released a statement in the case of Gregory Lisby, an Episcopal priest who allegedly has admitted to possession of child pornography. Further, evidence has emerged that Lisby may have abused a teen in the parish.

In a letter to the diocese, Bishop Douglas Fisher says:
“I am deeply saddened to know that a priest is alleged to have committed such a grievous sin,” Fisher wrote, “and on behalf of the entire church, I offer my most heartfelt apology to the victim, the victim’s family and to everyone whose trust in the church has been violated. 
“I cannot undo this terrible situation, but I can commit our diocese to telling the truth and seeking healing and reconciliation for anyone who has been harmed by Lisby.”
That stands in marked contrast to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, which has consistently engaged in coverup of Bob Malm’s misconduct. This includes insisting that it will not so much as look into allegations that Malm has committed perjury, repeatedly made false statements of law and fact to the courts, and more. Indeed, via the Rev. Sven vanBaars, the diocese has said it will only take action if Malm faces criminal charges.

Currently, the diocese and Church Insurance are defending their conduct in court. That includes throwing money at the matter, even going so far as to hire a transcription service for the first return—something that almost never happens. In short, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia is diing everything in its power to avoid telling the truth.

Meanwhile, church members continue to make obscene gestures at me and otherwise demonstrate just how toxic their brand of “Christianity” really is.

Caveat emptor—the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, Grace Episcopal Church and Bishop Susan Goff are morally bankrupt.

More Fun and Games from St. Dysfunction Episcopal

More fun and games today from the crowd at Grace Episcopal, otherwise known as St. Dysfunction.

Earlier today, while out protesting in front of the building (but entirely on public land),  I was pleased to see that Planet Malm continues to hold fast to Bob’s Malm’s motion of Christian conduct. Specifically, a well-known parishioner rolled past and flipped the One-Gun Salute to Jesus. So glad to see that he takes the baptismal covenant seriously. (Hint: He drives a black crossover and lives in Del Ray.)

Less than an hour later, two police units rolled in, on the basis that I had allegedly been stepping in front of vehicles. 

A few minor details:
  • Having never left the sidewalk or entered the curb cut, this must mean the driver was driving on the sidewalk. That’s odd—I didn’t see any vehicles on the sidewalk.
  • Pedestrians have the right of way as a matter of law.
  • Having seen the soccer moms and dads of Grace Episcopal School and how they drive, I can assure all involved I stay well away from all drivers associated with the school. And the church for that matter.
  • Patty Culbreth came out and spoke at length with one of the two responding units. Hmmm.
I have filed a FOIA request to learn more. 

In the meantime, it seems to me that folks at St. Dysfunction still have not learned anything about the perils of playing games with our legal system. I note as well that the tort of abuse of process can include reports made to police and regulatory agencies.

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.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Ethics, Grace Episcopal, and Life Inside the Beltway

One of the profoundly troubling things about Grace Episcopal Church is the juxtaposition of the blind trust that members place in Bob Malm and his fabrications with the fact that many parishioners work for the federal government and organizations covered by the ethics provisions of Gramm-Rudman and Sarbanes-Oxley. And that’s all the more the case following the appalling retaliation recently experienced by military and other government officials who have expressed concerns about conduct within the executive branch of government.

Consider: Many parish leaders are retired military. If someone came forward with allegations that a military leader had engaged in perjury and other potentially criminal conduct, would they turn a blind eye? Would they refuse to take any action at all? Or would they insist on a full and fair investigation into the allegations? One hopes that the answer would be the latter.

Similarly, the parish is replete with former Senior Executive Service officials. If they received such allegations, would they simply say, “Well, I know him. That can’t be.”?

Same goes for Fortune 500 employees. In almost every instance, such employees are covered by whistleblower protections, including mandatory reporting if an employee becomes aware of possible misconduct.

In the context of the Episcopal church, the canons state that all who serve the church do so as fiduciaries. That begs the question: When was a fiduciary permitted under the law to turn a blind eye to misconduct affecting the larger organization?

Consider these questions, too, if the matter didn’t involve perjury, but instead sexual harassment. Would parishioners refuse to listen or look into the matter?

Ironically, my conflict with Bob does involve allegations of possible gender-based harassment, including Bob Malm’s repeated failure to address these issues. And the accuracy of church financial reporting and adequacy of cash handling internal controls remain serious concerns of mine. Yet in every instance, both the diocese and the parish have brushed off these issues.

How Susan Goff and the diocese can say that potential gender-based harassment and known misuse of church funds is not of “weighty and material importance to the ministry of the church,” is beyond me. Just ask Brad Bergman about the stale checks and unaccounted-for cash found in church offices following Charlotte Payne Wright’s departure.

And if you are a woman or other person affected by gender-based harassment, why are you supporting a church and diocese that says these issues, as well as bullying and perjury by clergy, are inconsequential?

Only you can answer that question.

Bob Malm’s Exact Words of Perjury

For those new to the blog, below are Bob Malm’s exact words of perjury. 

While there are other fabrications in his sworn statement, this is the most noteworthy and material, as he cites his fabrication as the basis for his conclusion that Mom’s blog was/is really mine.

Bob Malm, perjuring priest.

Grace Episcopal, the clergy perjury parish.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Petition to Investigate Perjuring Priest Bob Malm Zooms Past 4000 Signatures

Check it out! Our petition asking the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia to show a little ethics by investigating perjuring priest Bob Malm has zoomed past 4000 signatures. We’re on our way to 5,000 and beyond!

Given that as of 2018 the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia only had 68,902 baptized members, you’d think Susan Goff and the other fat cats at Mayo House would get the hint. But as things stand, Bob Malm’s perjury is “not of weighty and material importance to the ministry of the church.” In fact, the gods of Mayo House will only deign to consider the matter if Bob Malm faces criminal charges. I guess that means if you are molesting children in an Episcopal church, you’re safe. After all, the diocese itself has said that the touchstone for it to get involved is criminal charges. But then, there is an exception for sexual misconduct...just look at other clergy disciplinary cases in Northern VA. I guess as long as it doesn’t involve sex you are okay.

And folks wonder why the Episcopal church is dying. No surprises there.

Episcopal Decline Accelerates, Church Faces Zero Sunday Attendance in 30 Years

The downward spiral of The Episcopal Church accelerated in 2018, leading to the possibility of no Sunday attendance in just 30 years, and no baptized members in 50 years. That’s according to the results of the church’s most recent annual parochial report, as covered in The Christian Post and as reported in the church’s own publicly released data.

Kristine Stache, interim president of the ELCA’s Wartburg Seminary, told Episcopal church officials that, from 2008 to 2018, the denomination experienced a 24.9 percent decline in average Sunday attendance (ASA), and a 17 percent decline in membership. “It appears to depict a church that is dying,” Stache said, calling the data, “very sobering.”

According to church statistics, the rate of decline accelerated in 2018, jumping from a 1.9 percent annual decline in membership in 2017 to a 2.1 percent decline, the highest rate since 2014. Moreover, burials outpaced baptisms by 7.34 percent, while in 2018 alone congregations saw a total decline in their financial investments of $155,500,000. The latter is amazing, particularly in light of the strong stock market, and suggests that on the local level, The Episcopal Church may be living beyond its means. 

Here in DioVA, the church lost 33.62 percent of its ASA between 2005 and 2018. Between just 2015 and 2018, the diocese shed 4.53% of its pledging units.

Amidst all this bad news, you’d think that folks would be on their good behavior, wouldn’t you? But you’d be mistaken—Bob Malm is comfortable trying to force people out of the church. Bishop Susan Goff, the diocese, and the Grace parish vestry are okay with Bob Malm committing perjury, as long as he doesn’t face criminal charges. And the Alison Campbells, Lisa Medleys, Jan Spences, and other fake Christians of Grace Church are okay with their behind-the-scenes fun and games in which they think they get to decide who can be part of the parish.

Small wonder The Episcopal Church is collapsing, and rightly so. The world will be a better place without the hypocrisy of The Episcopal Church. 

And don’t worry about Bobby Malm. He’ll continue to jog, play golf, and drink beer, secure in the knowledge that he’ll get his retirement check, regardless of the hot mess that he leaves behind at Grace Church.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Why Having Phil Smith on the Discernment Committee is Good

There’s a bit of good news with Phil Smith’s appointment to the discernment committee. Not only is Phil proficient in dealing with human resources (HR) issues — a much-needed skill when navigating the discernment process — but he also has a bit of St. Dysfunction history under his belt that may both warrant and facilitate further discussion within the committee and possibly the vestry.

Specifically, I believe that Phil is one of the parishioners who can confirm that Bob Malm lied repeatedly to members of the executive committee and the vestry about HR issues within the parish. Based on information from reliable sources, I believe that, during his tenure as a warden, Phil surfaced his concerns with HR issues in the church office. His efforts went nowhere, however, as Bob allegedly brushed him off, adding, “Don’t worry about it. They’ll be retiring this year,” referring to issues with Charlotte and Beth.

What it telling is that this was not a one-off misstep. Several years later, Bob Malm told me exactly the same lie when I raised similar issues during my time as junior warden. When I shared my concerns with other parish leaders, I quickly learned that this was not Bob’s first use of this lie to avoid accountability for himself and for church staff.

I also raised my concerns directly with Bob Malm, who at no point denied having lied. Instead, when these issues came up in subsequent meetings, Bob volunteered, “I don’t know when  [Beth and Charlotte] will be retiring.” 

Nor is Bob’s lie minor. 

In addition to having told this lie repeatedly, healthy organizations of every ilk treat lying about HR issues to board members and others who serve in a fiduciary capacity to the organization as being a serious matter. Indeed, such conduct would normally be grounds for immediate termination, and creates some serious legal issues under Sarbanes-Oxley and other federal ethics statutes.

Of course, that brings us back to my usual rhetorical question, which is where but in The Episcopal Church is it okay for employees to behave like this? Such behavior doesn’t cut it in normal non-profits, nor does it work in for-profits. And that should be doubly the case when the lie is told by a member of the clergy.

So why is this okay?

And when will the parish publicly admit that Bob Malm is a liar. a perjurer and a bully?

And what steps will be taken going forward to ensure that future rectors don’t abuse their power, as Bob did in this case? My suggestion is that the vestry start by making clear that it represents the parish in such matters, not the rector, and that the rector does not get to interfere in vestry operations by appointing the executive committee. Episcopal churches should be representative democracies, not autocracies run by narcissistic clergy. And parishioners damn well have the right to expect the rector and all parish staff to do their jobs and to be accountable. That is a right established by church canon.

Keep in mind that, to this day, the parish has no strategic plan. To my knowledge, it still does not have a finance manual, as required by the denomination, nor does it have a personnel manual. Having spent 30 years at Grace, Bob had more than enough time and resources to get these done. And the parish paid Bob a $100,000 bonus, for what?

Feel free to quote me.

My final observation is that, much like Bob Malm himself, Grace Episcopal deals with conflict by lying, denying and equivocating. But if the parish tries that here, it will be sealing its fate, as no one wants to join a church where clergy perjury is shrugged off, where members urge others to commit suicide, and where the altar guild and choir think bullying is okay.

By the way, please remind me: Why did Bob Malm decide to expressly include Mike in his vendetta? Having been received into TEC only 16 months earlier, the fact that Bob decided to go after him tells you everything you need to know about Grace Church. And in fact, a review of Sugarland Chiow’s billing records confirms that Bob discussed trying to get a protective order against Mike.


Shout Out to David Crosby

Given that David Crosby likes to materialize here in cyber from time to time with with his hypocritical church-speak, Jesus-babble, and claims to be able to assess mental illness without so much as speaking directly to the subject, here’s a quote for him from Canon Robin Hammeal-Urban’s excellent book on clergy misconduct, “Wholeness After Betrayal”:
By failing to disclose truths, we are in essence lying by omission....for our relationships to be trustworthy and authentic, we need to know the truth about ourselves and others. This is particularly true for all members of congregations who have been betrayed by a trusted leader, lay or ordained. Misconduct erodes trust, not only between the offender and the primary victim, but also among other members of a congregation. To begin to rebuild or establish trust, it is essential that misconduct, which typically involves secrets and secretive behavior, be brought to light.
My questions to David:
  • If you really are a Christian, why are you afraid to look into the question of Bob Malm’s perjury? 
  • Do you really think anyone believes Bob’s claim, made in writing, that I left on my own? If he did, why did Bob feel the need to tell church staff to exclude me? 
  • Why did Bob Malm include Mike Smith in his vendetta? 
  • Do you understand that failing to tell the truth is not only lying by omission, it will ultimately result in the collapse of Grace Church? 
It will soon be Lent, David. Time to tell the truth. The whole “there are two sides to every story” routine doesn’t cut it.

    Episcopal priest David Crosby. Friend to perjuring priest Bob Malm.

The Ethical Perils of Representing Multiple Parties

Attorneys for the church, the parish, the bishopric and the Malms face multiple ethical challenges. Not only are they in the distinctively unenviable place of having to defend questionable behavior on the part of Bob Malm, Sugarland Chiow and the parish, but they are representing multiple parties in this matter. Not surprisingly, the latter carries with it certain ethical challenges.

Foremost among these problems is that of divergent interests among clients. This means that legal strategies and outcomes that may be beneficial to one client may run counter to the interests of other clients.

In the case of the Baltimore-based law firm representing the parish and diocese, we’re already seeing that issue at play. Specifically, at the last hearing, defense counsel motioned the court for dismissal on two bases: That the protective order was something Bob Malm pursued in his individual capacity, or that the issue before the court is one precluded by the constitution and canons of The Episcopal Church.

Apropos the claim that Bob acted in his individual capacity, Bob Malm represented both to the vestry and to third parties that he was acting on behalf of the parish. Not only did he discuss the matter in advance with diocesan staff and members of the vestry, but in an email he claimed that his decision to pursue protective order was a form of “church discipline” he and the vestry had decided upon. How Bob Malm believes one can impose “church discipline” via the courts is beyond me, let along for someone no longer a member of the denomination, but then anything is possible in Sugarland. In fact, Bob Malm updated the vestry on the matter on multiple occasions, thus making it clear that he was acting as an agent of the parish.

That said, were defense counsel to prevail on that claim, the result would be to throw Bob Malm under the bus. Given the broken ethical reference point of the diocese and parish, this outcome would not surprise me. But it’s hardly the outcome one expects from a church, particularly when, as here, the diocese’s laissez-faire approach to clergy discipline allowed Malm to stupidly bully his way into the current hot mess.

Apropos defense counsel’s claim that judicial review of the matter is precluded by the constitution and canons of The Episcopal Church, there’s the simple reality that the parish went to court in the first place. Having initiated legal action, it is difficult to assert with a straight face that the courts are now precluded from reviewing the matter. Nor would one wish to get too far out on that limb—next thing you know, you’re arguing that clergy perjury is protected by the canons. Hardly in the clients’ long-term best interest.

Where things really get dicey, however, is when one folds Bob Malm into the client mix.

In his individual capacity, Bob’s best interests are served by remaining under the umbrella of the parish’s D&O liability policy. If that is removed, he becomes personally liable for his actions—a situation that could leave him personally on the hook for massive punitive damages.

At the same time, admitting that Bob committed perjury and engaged in witness tampering (as he did by contacting Dee Parsons multiple times in an apparent effort to change her testimony) is highly problematic, for it exposes the parish and the diocese to the possibility of serious legal consequences, as well as possible criminal liability for Bob Malm.

This paradigm, already fraught with ethical and legal risks, is complicated by the fact that churches are called, by their nature, to bring light to darkness. Or, as Canon to the Ordinary Robin Hammeal-Urban says in her excellent book on healing from clergy misconduct:

By failing to disclose truths, we are in essence lying by omission....for our relationships to be trustworthy and authentic, we need to know the truth about ourselves and others. This is particularly true for all members of congregations who have been betrayed by a trusted leader, lay or ordained. Misconduct erodes trust, not only between the offender and the primary victim, but also among other members of a congregation. To begin to rebuild or establish trust, it is essential that misconduct, which typically involves secrets and secretive behavior, be brought to light.

In other words, failing to disclose the parish’s previous misconduct via Bob Malm, Sugarland Chiow and others, or trying to sweep it under the rug via a non disclosure agreement (NDA), simply makes things worse and all but guarantees that Grace Church will collapse under the weight of its toxic culture.

Of course, folks at Grace Church will respond, “But it’s a friendly and welcoming place.” The reality,  however, is that while people at the church are cordial, the welcome mat is predicated on doing what they want. Those who criticize Bob Malm (or who are thought to have done so), will discover very quickly that they are persona non grata. And heaven help the person who runs afoul of the altar guild or the choir. That person will discover quickly just how thin Grace Church’s welcome is.

This also is a place where it’s okay to urge others to commit suicide, and that is shedding pledging units like a long-haired dog during the first hot days of spring.

That begs the issue: If Grace is such a slice of paradise, why is it in such a state of rapid decline?

And it begs my question: When will Grace Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, and church leaders tell the truth about Bob Malm’s misconduct?

Grace Episcopal and Lenten Hypocrisy

Monday, February 17, 2020

Why Grace Church and the Diocese Cannot Win in Court

As Grace’s discernment committee begins the long, arduous road towards finding a successor to Bob Malm, the unpleasant reality of the mess Bob left behind looms. That includes the various lawsuits now under way against the parish, the diocese, and members of Bob’s family, which were precipitated by Bob Malm’s conduct as rector.

It’s also true that neither the parish, nor the diocese, can win in court.

What do I mean by that? Couldn’t they find some way to get the current cases dismissed?

The answer is simple. All litigation involves hazards and risks. So yes, the church and the diocese could conceivably obtain favorable results in court. But that doesn’t mean they actually win.

As with many conflicts, the current conflict is one that involves myriad issues. Many are not amenable to resolution in court. These include:
  • The church’s reputation.
  • Interpersonal dynamics within the parish.
  • The church’s role in the community.
As things stand, the worst thing that could happen to the church would be to prevail in court. Doing so would further reinforce the current conflict, while providing additional grounds for concern among outsiders who are looking at the church.

Moreover, a victory would help those with their heads in the sand assure themselves that, in fact, Bob Malm could not have committed perjury and otherwise been abusive.

I mean, he’s such a good guy. He’s caring. He married us. He baptized my kids. His sermons are great. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluded, maybe dangerous, certainly dysfunctional.

These are the logical fallacies and magical thinking that the Kemp Williams, Jean Reeds, Easter Thompsons, Susan Goffs and others in the church and diocese deploy to avoid dealing with the inconvenient truth, which is that Bob Malm is a bully, a liar, a perjurer, and someone who thinks it’s okay to try to drag a dying woman into court. One has only to read Sugarland Chiow’s courtroom rhetoric and fabrications to realize just how toxic this paradigm has become. Or as one Episcopal priest with first-hand knowledge of the issues at Grace says, “They have a lot of work to do.”

Thus, a courtroom victory would allow the blind sycophants in the parish to brush things off, assure themselves that that damned Bonetti is “unhinged,” and return to their toxic ways, oblivious to the damage they cause to a church they claim to love. But if they love Grace church so much, why do they behave in a way that is causing lasting harm to the parish?

Think about it: In all the emails from within the parish, we consistently see Bob Malm trying to stoke fears, while Jean Reed, Kemp Williams and others claim to be able to do what no licensed mental health professional may legally or ethically do, which is to opine on the mental health of someone with whom they have not met to discuss the matter directly. Yet in the midst of this bloviating within the parish, the one thing one never sees is any concern for the person who, in Jean Reed’s words, is “troubled.” Perhaps church members would do well to spend less time gossiping about others, and more time dealing with their own shortcomings. In fact, if they did, they might come to understand why neutral third parties say, “They may seem sane to themselves, but this group of parishioners seems hateful and childish to outsiders looking at their behavior.”

Nor is the diocese any better.

From that corner, we get the laughably appalling notion that clergy misconduct is only actionable if it it illegal. That conclusion enjoys the full support of Bishop Susan Goff, the Rev. Melissa Hollerith (who, amusingly, teaches ethics at St. Albans, and whose husband Randy is dean of the National Cathedral), and undoubtedly that of JP Causey, the diocesan chancellor. The latter is noteworthy, as his capacity for bad legal advice appears to know no bounds. For example, in the Title IV case at St. Thomas’ in McLean, Causey would seem to be the knucklehead who suggested to the Virginia bishops that they ignore the requirement of Title IV to provide a pastoral response to the congregation, but instead to keep the matter at arm’s length for fear of liability. The result was lasting damage and hard feelings within the parish. Nothing like protecting the organization at the expense of the people who make it up, huh?

And the cluelessness continues. The Rev. Sven vanBaars, the dingbat intake officer who thinks that clergy misconduct is only actionable if it results in criminal prosecution, has been elected as a delegate to general convention (GC). I guess that’s good—he can hang with fellow delegate JP Causey at the upcoming GC in Baltimore and commiserate about the protesters outside.

The bottom line is this: Until Grace Episcopal learns to be a church, versus a religious club, and worships God, versus Bob Malm, it will decline.

Yes, Bob’s carefully crafted communications have all the right church-speak and Jesus-babble, developed through observation, mimicry and repetition, but they are empty, hollow. Similarly, the church building is full of bright shiny things, carefully polished, but they mean nothing.

Same for the friendly, welcoming congregation. Yes, people are cordial, but criticize Bob Malm and see just how long that welcome lasts. Just check out the comments from the parishioner urging me to commit suicide if you want proof.

Same for the church’s other promises. For example, giving is supposed to be confidential, but Lisa Medley has no problem posting details of your giving on social media, even though, true to form, she gets the specifics wrong. Would you really want her potentially posting details of your bequest to the church on social media? The Legacy Society (of which I was a member) promises confidentiality, but if the church cannot protect your information while you are alive, why would you think it will do so when you are dead?

Of course, it is true that parishioners have done an admirable job of stepping up giving, even as number of pledging units collapses and attendance drops to record lows.

But the reality is that this is a church that is still trying to defend Bob Malm’s perjury, his efforts to drag a dying woman into court, and his various courtroom fabrications. Indeed, one has only to look at Malm’s emails to diocesan officials, replete with calling me “sick,” “twisted,” and “dysfunctional,” to know just how toxic the parish has become. And in honor of Bob’s efforts, the church has named the “new” narthex after him!

Nor is time on the church’s side. With vast swaths of the church membership well into retirement, the next 10 years will result in major demographic shifts. And yes, bequests to the parish may buy time, but even if parish investments were adequate to fully carry the church’s operations, the church is nothing without people in it. (Covering just current operating and maintenance costs for the building would require an endowment of $3.75 million, for the record.)

Neither is the church’s role in the community likely to pull in members. With well under 3 percent of total revenue going to local outreach and the diocesan pledge seriously underfunded, the place is hardly a center for outreach, and it sure as hell isn’t doing any healing.

Going forward, the church’s only hope is to clean up its act. When people see that Grace Church really is what it claims to be, a center for outreach and healing, then it can begin to rebuild. But as long as it clings to the notion that Bob Malm could not, would not, be a bully and a perjurer, it is in dire trouble. Nor is it going to thrive when people in the church think it’s okay to call others “domestic terrorists;” to urge others to commit suicide; and for Alison Campbell, the altar guild, and the choir to play their childish games.

So yes, the church could win in court. But it can’t and won’t shut down the ability of people to criticize its actions, to discuss the parish in public and in cyberspace, and to warn people about the hypocrisy of life at Grace Episcopal. As the saying goes, the court of public opinion is open 24/7, 365 days a year, and there is irrefutable evidence that Grace is a toxic church where it’s okay for the rector to lie in court, and where this dynamic carries through into the daily life of the church.

And the truth will out, meaning that sooner or later, even the most diehard loyalists will find out that the parish is nothing but a pretty and whimsical illusion. And like the mirage of an oasis in a desert, getting tangled up with Grace Church may be a positive experience, even for a few years. But in the end, the painful reality sets in, which is that the church is anything but a safe refuge from the hot and barren desert.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Spiritual Abuse and Healthy Churches: Good Article in CT

There’s a good podcast on Christianity Today (“CT”) that discusses spiritual abuse in churches, why it’s often difficult to spot, and typically even harder to address. The information is very relevant to Grace Episcopal Church and the spiritual abuse/toxic dynamics within the parish. Take a listen here.

Key points:

Spiritual abuse, which often involves bullying and manipulation, typically is hard to detect, as it usually involves an ongoing series of small acts that, when examined individually, appear innocuous, but when taken as a whole, form a damning pattern.
  • Rejection of critical feedback, something I observed many times with Bob Malm, is a key indicator of spiritual abuse. Indeed, Bob refused all accountability, either ducking the issue with fabrications, such as saying of church office staff, “Don’t worry about it, they’ll be retiring this year,” or trying to shut it down via explosive outbursts of rage, as in when Lee Meeks brought up governance concerns concerning the Shrine Mont event at a vestry meeting.
  • Church leaders who engage in spiritual abuse often are adept at manipulating perceptions, thus making it difficult for people to realize just unhealthy a church has become. 
    • For example, consider Bob Malm’s “confession” in his final Grace Notes before retirement, in which he states, “in 30 years, I’ve not visited as much as I would have liked. As an example, out of the 15 current Vestry (sic) members, I’ve only visited the homes of 8!” That sort of pseudo-confession is typical of spiritually abusive leadership, and in Bob’s case amusing, as he never lacked time for golf, running/marathons or his month at the beach every summer. Indeed, I don’t recall ever hearing of Bob showing up at a hypothermia shelter, the homeless shelter, or any other ministry, except for Art on the Avenue and the annual altar guild tea. Hardly a grueling schedule, even by the most generous of standards.
  • Because spiritually abusive churches tend to place leaders on a pedestal, they tend to demonize critics. Moreover, one never sees concern within the church for those viewed as critics. 
    • While insiders view the situation as normal, outsiders may view church members’ conduct as childish, hateful, and toxic. Consider the comments on The Wartburg Watch, when Leslie Malm and Lisa Medley went on the attack after the publication covered Bob’s behavior at Grace Church. As one commenter put it, “While these parishioners may seem sane to themselves, they appear childish and hateful to outsiders viewing their actions.” 
    • Similarly, Kemp Williams’ emails about me, in which he says, “It is abundantly clear that Eric is psychopathic,” further illustrate the level of discourse within the parish. Leaving aside the fact that one would hope for better from members of the church, Kemp appears oblivious to the legal concept that opinion may be defamatory if the matter is provable as a matter of fact. The fact that conversations of this sort are acceptable and normative at Grace Church makes clear the depth and breadth of the issues within the parish, and the extent to which the diocese’s laissez faire attitude toward the parish is causing lasting harm. Here is Kemp’s email:

  • Because information flow within spiritually abusive churches often is tightly controlled, people rarely talk to others, preferring instead to talk about others. This is the case at Grace Church, where Bob tried to keep control of information by not releasing financial data, restricting dissemination of vestry minutes, and more. That trend continues to this day, and the fallout is reflected in Kemp’s email above. Given that Kemp has never discussed this thoughts directly with me, and Bob was for years largely indifferent to church security, one sees how this toxic paradigm plays out.
  • Denominational leaders, like Susan Goff, typically are willfully ignorant about issues of abuse, particularly spiritual abuse. They don’t understand it, and be choosing not to bring in those who do understand it and can advise them appropriately, they offer tacit and sometimes explicit support.
  • Toxic churches like Grace typically cause healthy individuals to seek other churches, leaving sycophants, empaths, enablers, and peacemakers at the helm. While these individuals often are well-meaning, they may have little appetite for directly addressing problems, particularly when the problems are as challenging as those involved in spiritual abuse. This certainly has played out at Grace Church, which has shed almost half of its pledging units in recent years, as well as numerous members.
    • Ironically, Lisa Medley claims that that I have said that my conflict is responsible for the church’s declining fortunes and that these issues transcend my conflict with Bob and the parish. She is correct that the parish’s problems go far beyond this conflict; indeed, her toxic responses underscore this reality.
    • Similarly, as the Rev. Robin Hammeal-Urban (canon to the ordinary for the diocese of Connecticut) notes, it is not the person who discloses abuse that is the cause of the harm that results. It is the abuser who is responsible for the harm. Thus, one can see in Kemp Williams’ email the classic response of a toxic church when abuse comes to light.
    • A healthy parish would be unaffected by the criticism of a former parishioner, no matter how noisy he or she might be. It is only as people realize that there indeed are serious problems that they begin to reduce their commitment to the church.
      • The fact that Bob Malm committed perjury, tried to drag a dying woman into court, repeatedly proffered false information to the courts, then tried to paper over the mess by seeking a settlement agreement containing non-disclosure and anti-disparagement clauses indicates just how toxic the church has become. 
  • As Dominique Benninger notes in recent media coverage of his experiences with spiritual abuse, “It is hard to trust once your faith has been used against you.”
  • In short, the best way to become a healthy church is to be a healthy church. And just like an alcoholic starts the road to recovery by acknowledging their problem, Grace Church will only be healthy when it tells the truth about what has transpired and the problems it faces. And like an alcoholic, Grace Church’s illness is progressive, meaning that left untreated it will only get worse, likely becoming terminal if it continues.

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, February 9, 2020

Great Online Resource: Church Trauma Blog

One of the great things about working with issues of church abuse is the people. Specifically, you get to meet some of the most wonderful people imaginable in the course of sharing your story and that of others.

And so it is with Dominique and Megan Benninger, a couple from south-central Pennsylvania who, like me, have endured spiritual and emotional abuse, including shunning and more, after they exposed wrongdoing in their former church.

I recently had the chance to chat with them about their blog, Not only are the Benningers great people, but they get it. Abuse is abuse, whether it’s spiritual, emotional, sexual, relational or other. 

Even better, they are doing something about it. Not only is their blog a great read, but it’s clear to me that they are working hard to protect others and make the world a better place. I expect great things will come from them, and heartily recommend their blog to you.

On a marginally related note, I’ve been a little overwhelmed with the passing, just days apart, of my maternal grandmother and my mother. As a result, I haven’t been great at keeping up with the blogs or my other activities, and I’m very sorry at the delays in getting back with folks, etc. But I do plan to write more about the Benningers in the coming days—theirs is a fascinating story, and illustrates just how pervasive spiritual abuse is in houses of worship.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Petition Seeking Investigation of Perjuring Priest Bob Malm Passes 3,000 Signatures

Even as Bishop Susan Goff and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia continue to try to ignore Episcopal priest Bob Malm’s perjury, lies, bullying, misuse of funds and more, signatures on my petition keep pouring in.

This morning, we passed 3,000 signatures, and 4,000 won’t be far off.

If you believe that clergy should be held accountable, that clergy should not be able to get away with perjury, and that churches should not be trying to drag dying people into court, please sign my petition today. Even better, chip in a few dollars and help spread word, or share my petition on your social networks.

Let’s tell the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, and perjuring priest Bob Malm’s new digs, the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, that we expect better.

Thanks for your kind support.

Petition about perjuring priest Bob Malm passes 3,000 signatures

Friday, January 31, 2020

Nearby Church Proves Decline is Not Inevitable

As Grace Episcopal Alexandria continues its precipitous decline due to 30 years of feckless rector Bob Malm and the toxic church culture undercurrents he helped create and foster, it’s worth noting that the third fastest growing Episcopal church in the country is right here in Northern VA. That’s right—just 7.3 miles down the road from Grace Church, to be exact. That church is the Falls Church Episcopal (TFCE), which only a few years ago had an average Sunday attendance (ASA) of only 100 people, but has grown so quickly that ASA now surpasses that of Grace Church.

These data are derived from TFCE’s annual report, which is freely available online. Unlike Grace Church, TFCE makes its information public, because it’s got a message it wants to share with the community, and it doesn’t have secret agendas or other issues that it needs to hide for fear pesky bloggers see information about them. In other words, if you’re operating in the light of day, there’s no reason to keep stuff hidden. 

And not only is attendance at TFCE strong, but giving is as well. During the period 2010 to 2019, pledge and plate giving at TFCE more than tripled. By way of contrast, the number of pledging units at St. Dysfunction, aka Grace Episcopal, crashed and burned during that time, dropping from almost 400 to less than 200. And while the remaining pledging units have increased giving to try to make up the difference, Grace still faces profound financial challenges, having lost 33.55 percent of its purchasing power during the same period of time. 

Tellingly, it was in 2014 that perjuring priest Bob Malm demanded the demolition of the rectory and a massive increase in his compensation package, ultimately flushing more than $2 million in church funds down the toilet, while living life large with a month at the beach every summer, $3,000 going away parties for school staff, and more. Small wonder the church is in decline.

Here are TFCE screen caps relevant to this post:

And for those who’d like to see the TFCE annual report in full, it’s online here in PDF. Not only do us unenlightened heathens get access to that information without calling Amy Medrick, but TFCE actually welcomes all. Not some, not most, not all but the ones perjuring priest Bob Malm and Sugarland Chiow decide to lie about and label “domestic terrorists.” And, knowing TFCE firsthand, I can tell you that there are no Alison Hambeast Campbells or Princess Porcine Lisa Medley’s trying to decide who is welcome, and who isn’t.

Check it out:

Grace Episcopal, the Clergy Perjury Parish

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Anyone Wonder if Lindsey Malm Anders is Going to be Candid With Her Attorney?

With my lawsuit now under way against Lindsey Malm Anders and Leslie Malm, I wonder if they are going to be candid with their attorneys.

I also wonder if members at Grace Episcopal know that, per sources at the Alexandria Police Department, it was Lindsey Malm who called the department to complain about a post on Fairfax Underground that she didn’t like, and which she claimed was written by me. Or if vestry members know that it was only after the police department told Lindsey that they could only act if there was threatening behavior that Bob Malm decided to commit a fraud on the court and lie by claiming he was threatened? 

Doubt it? Just come up with one jot or tittle of evidence that, per Bob Malm’s written claim under oath, Mom or someone claiming to be her contacted him repeatedly to set up appointments. And then you get morons like David Crosby bloviating on, saying, “Bobby Malm, You’re Amazing.”

Well, yes. It is amazing that perjury is okay for Episcopal clergy. And it’s amazing that Alternative Paths Training School thinks it’s okay for Lindsey Malm Anders to work with special needs kids with behavioral issues.

But most amazing of all is the notion that someone like Bob Malm can be considered an exemplary priest, despite being a perjurer, a bully, and feckless in the extreme.

Below, an example of the childish conduct that arises from growing up in the Malm household. Or maybe it’s a result of attending Tabor Academy. Or both.

And below, we have Bob’s written perjury:

Tellingly, elsewhere Bob Malm contradicts himself, claiming that the language of the blogs changed, with Mom’s blog allegedly becoming “threatening and violent.”

So which is it, Bob?

Bob Malm, perjuring priest.

Petition Demanding Susan Goff Address Bob Malm’s Perjury, Misconduct Passes 2000 Signatures, Even as Diocese Continues to Ignore Problems

You have to hand it to The Episcopal Church—it is remarkably stubborn in its defense of abuse. In fact, if it took such an extreme stand on women’s rights, LGBTQ+ issues, and other important social issues, it would have been ordaining women in the 1700’s.

Doubt it? More than 2,000 signatories later, Bishop Susan Goff continues to hang out in that antebellum heap, Mayo House, trying to ignore Bob Malm’s perjury. She’s never once even had the integrity to talk directly with me, but she knows enough to be able to sign off on the notion that The Episcopal Church will only deal with clergy perjury if there are criminal charges, despite the fact that the clergy disciplinary canons expressly forbid “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation“ as well as “any conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy.” See for yourself:

And here is a screen cap of the petition:

And people actually wonder why the Episcopal Church is collapsing.