Episcopal Priest Robert Malm Again Sued in Massachusetts
Sep 9, 2021
The move comes after the court found that prior service of process on the defendant was flawed.
At issue are allegations that Malm lied to the Wareham courts, denying that he committed perjury in prior legal proceedings involving former parishioner Eric Bonetti. Specifically, Bonetti claims that Malm falsely stated under oath that Bonetti’s late mother, then terminally ill, contacted Malm repeatedly to set up appointments, only to no-show. In response, Malm has repeatedly refused to provide support for his claim, yet he told the Wareham court that he did not lie. This issue is key to the litigation, for Malm asserts it as the basis for his claim that a blog written by Ms. Yahner — which was not actually threatening — was written by her son.
Bonetti also asserts that Malm filed a false and defamatory police report, falsely claiming that Bonetti “stalked,” “threatened,” and “harassed” Malm and his family.
“Not only have we had no contact in several years, except for terroristic threats that Malm directed at me, but Malm’s claims beg the issue: Malm obtained a protective order in Virginia by virtue of similar lies,” said Bonetti. “Why then did he not file a Motion to Show Cause with the Virginia courts?”
Bonetti further asserts that Malm’s original pleadings were inflammatory and contained multiple fabrications, including references to a fictional church shooting in the imaginary town of Sugarland Texas.
Of note, a former Grace Church employee recently came forward to complain of emotional abuse by Malm. She stated that she complained to Malm, the church vestry, and the diocese, but was ignored, so she resigned from her job with the church.
Nor was that the only time that the Episcopal Church has turned a blind eye to allegations involving Malm. Both the Episcopal Dioceses of Virginia and Massachusetts have refused to address Bonetti’s accusations of perjury, or the fact that Malm tried to depose Bonetti’s late mother, then terminally ill, in violation of state law.
Malm is trying to get the suit dismissed on the basis of the state’s Anti-SLAPP statute, which is designed to protect First Amendment rights from encroachment by frivolous lawsuits. “Let me be clear,” said Bonetti. “There is no protection under the First Amendment for perjury or false police reports. Nor does the state Anti-SLAPP measure protect perjury or lying to the police.”
“As litigation progresses, I expect we will see more of Malm’s ugly behavior emerge,” said Bonetti. “And I submit that Malm knows that, which is why he is trying to get the Virginia courts to cover the matter in near absolute secrecy. Indeed, if Malm is living up to his calling as a priest, what does he have to hide? And the fact that even the church vestry won’t address allegations of emotional abuse is a damning indicia of just how troubled Grace Church and the larger denomination are. Yet even now, sycophants in the parish all but worship Malm, while turning a blind eye to his misconduct and attacking anyone who speaks out.
“I have told Malm in open court that if he disagrees with my portrayal of him as a perjurer, he is more than welcome to sue me for defamation,” said Bonetti. “The invitation stands, and the fact he has not done so is perhaps the most telling indicator of the accuracy of my claims.”