Sunday, October 21, 2018

Dear Grace Church: Bob Malm Played You

In Bob Malm’s long-running vendetta against me, there’s a dirty little secret lurking right behind the scenes. 

The secret? It’s that Bob Malm played his own church. That’s right, folks, he threw you under the bus.

Here’s what you don’t know.

Late in 2017, it was Lindsey Malm who called the police. That’s right—Bob was not the culprit. 

Lindsey called because she didn’t like a post critical of Bob on Fairfax Underground. 

Alexandria police followed up, telling her that they couldn’t do anything unless there were threats.  That’s when Bob joined in the fray, with his weird muttering about protesting “making good on threats already made,” his comments and innuendo about me being unbalanced, and his taking random words out of context from my mom’s blog—one that very few people even knew existed prior to that time.

True to form, Bob quickly made the rounds, bouncing from the vestry, to the school, to the diocese. As he’s wont to do, Bishop Shannon didn’t have the common sense to put the brakes on Bob’s antics, and next thing you know Bob’s carrying on about single-button wireless panic buttons, active shooters, and topics he didn’t even know existed a year earlier. (Bob historically hasn’t even bothered to carry his wireless key fob for the alarm system, which itself has a single button panic feature.) Nor was Bob limited in his shuttle diplomacy; he even pulled the gullible and easily manipulated Leslie Steffensen into the mix, despite the fact she had long ago wandered off to an administrative job at the National Cathedral. And folks like Kemp Williams were quick to weigh in, even though he didn’t even know about Mom’s blog until Bob started his machinations.

As part of his efforts, Bob pulled Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow into things, even getting him to violate ethics provisions that prevent attornies from initiating or maintaining a frivolous cause of action. Why do I say that? Because while Jeff’s performance in this matter was amateur hour, at best, I am pretty sure that he realizes that random words, taken out of context, do not a threat make. And again, Jeff Chiow repeatedly lied in his pleadings.

When the case went to discovery, Bob Malm had no compunction against lying in his written responses to interrogatories, falsely claiming that only his wife Leslie had blogged about the matter, despite knowing full well that not only had Lindsey done so, but that she was the person behind the entire debacle. And being a “close” family, it’s a safe bet that Leslie and Lindsey both were in the know from the get-go.

Of course, in so doing, Bob turned a private kerfuffle into a churchwide issue, and in so doing placed Grace Church’s reputation on the line.

As things played out, Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow increasingly lost sight of his own ethical boundaries, inserting multiple fabrications into his pleadings, and even trying to drag a dying woman into court. Behind the scenes, this caused tremendous consternation in certain circles, with Fanny Belanger resigning soon after Sugarland’s abortive attempt to subpoena my mother. (The latter, by the way, is not permitted under relevant law.)

Now, Bob is in a trap of his own making, but true to form, he’s trying to make the whole debacle the church’s problem, even going so far as to bring the matter up at during a recent vestry meeting. Yes, on some level, the issue is the vestry’s concern, as it has served as a rubber stamp and allowed Bob repeatedly to abuse his authority as rector. At the same time, however, the vendetta ultimately was Bob’s doing, and it’s now his mess to clean up.

In that respect, Bob has a problem on his hands. By law, he and I cannot have any communication, and I have previously told him in writing that he is to have no further communication with me, either directly or through third parties. Should he choose to violate this request, Virginia law will treat his contact as a prima facie case of criminal stalking per Va. Code § 18.2, and he can be sure I will pursue criminal charges in record time. 

Nor do I wish to be contacted by any member or representative of Grace Church or the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, including employees, agents, or vestry members. Through his actions, including Jeff Chiow’s inflammatory pleadings, Dysfunctional Bob has shut down all communication, and that is how things will remain.

Nor would Bob be wise to attempt further litigation. There is ample evidence of defamation per se from Leslie and Lindsey Malm, and I am fully prepared both to pursue them individually, and to seek punitive damages.

The bottom line: Grace Church, you’ve been played. Bob ignored your best interests as he pursued his own agenda — one that involves a vile, vicious, vindictive personal vendetta.

So, lots more protesting, blogging, and media coverage to come, and it’s a safe bet Grace Church will be much smaller when all is said and done — if it survives at all.

Were I Bob’s attorney, at this point I’d suggest cutting his losses, retiring to Georgia, and hoping that some future rector, if there is one, can clean up his mess. 

Oh, and an apology to the parish for dragging it and its members into his Machiavellian fun and games would not be inappropriate. But don’t hold your breath—Bob appears incapable of actually taking responsibility for his actions. The best he can manage is some well-crafted acting that sounds sincere, but in reality is anything but.