Episcopal Survivors Network condemns court decision involving Episcopal priest

Episcopal Survivors Network

Court wrongly affirms claims by Robert H. Malm that protests are “harassment”

The Episcopal Survivors Network (ESN) today condemned a decision by the Massachusetts Appeals Court, denying an appeal by former Episcopal Church member Eric Bonetti involving claims by Robert H. Malm, an Episcopal priest, that Bonetti threatened and harassed Malm. These claims were set forth in a harassment protection order request in which Malm allegedly repeatedly lied to the courts, including:

  • Falsely claiming that he was being “stalked” and “harassed” by virtue of protests outside his church;
  • Falsely claiming that Bonetti operates the website “Fairfax Underground,” an unmoderated site famous for Internet trolling:
  • Falsely claiming that Malm did not commit perjury in previous litigation, including lying by saying that Bonetti’s late mother, Sigrid Yahner, contacted him repeatedly:
  • Falsely claiming that Bonetti operated a website impersonating that of St. Gabriel’s Episcopal parish, located in Marion MA.

Meanwhile, in a video posted on the St. Gabriel’s website, Malm claimed that Bonetti was not a threat, even as told the court and police otherwise.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms today’s decision by the court, which relied heavily on self-contradictory and possibly false statements by Malm, and which displays remarkably weak legal reasoning in an effort to justify the trial court’s erroneous and biased decision,” said ESN spokesperson Rebecca Korn. “We regard as reprehensible the court’s suggestion in dicta that contacting the diocese to complain about Malm’s conduct is a form of harassment.

“We also absolutely condemn the continuing refusal by the Dioceses of Virginia and Massachusetts to address the underlying allegations, and their insistence that the matter be addressed in the courts. This is absolutely unethical, disrespectful to victims of abuse, and undercuts the denomination’s claim that church clergy disciplinary canons are intended to promote healing and reconciliation.

“Lastly, ESN calls for the immediate resignations of acting Ecclesiastical Authority Susan Goff, Bishop Alan Gates, and Diocese of Virginia Chancellor JP Causey. All have utterly failed to honor their obligations under church canons. Moreover, the Diocese of Virginia, apparently acting on the basis of guidance from Mr. Causey, continues to ignore the requirement of a pastoral response in every instance in which a Title IV complaint is made. This is appalling and outrageous, and we believe it is indicative of an endemic breakdown in governance within the relevant dioceses.

“This failure to demonstrate concern for victims of abuse undercuts the Episcopal Church at every level, and unless addressed will result in the collapse of the denomination. We cannot state too emphatically the problems these moral failings are causing for the Episcopal Church,” Korn concluded.

Bonetti and his husband were among the first same-sex couples married in the Episcopal Church. They have since left the denomination due to the church’s failure to address non-sexual abuse.

Bonetti is receiving treatment for PTSD and depression as a result of Malm’s conduct and that of the two dioceses.


Rebecca Korn
Episcopal Survivors Network
[email protected]

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Religion News Service or Religion News Foundation.

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