Attorney Jeffery Chiow represented Grace Episcopal Church, the Rev. Robert H. Malm, and the Rev. Leslie Steffensen in litigation involving Anglican Watch editor Eric Bonetti and his husband, Michael Smith. The lawsuit involved fabricated claims by Malm that various words, taken out of context from a blog published by Bonetti’s late mother, Sigrid Yahner, were somehow threats. Malm also claimed that Bonetti was mentally ill, and falsely claimed under oath that Yahner had contacted Malm repeatedly to set up appointments, only to no-show.
In the course of the litigation, Chiow made multiple false statements of law and fact to the courts, including:
- Claiming that Bonetti had violated a prior court order.
- Inventing a fictional town of “Sugarland Texas,” and an equally imaginary church shooting at that location.
- Stating as fact that Bonetti had not been licensed as an attorney.
- Stating as fact that Bonetti had never served as a police officer.
Chiow also ignored a court order to compel, and attempted to subpoena Yahner, then dying of COPD, incontinent, reliant on oxygen and morphine, and suffering a severe anxiety disorder, in violation of state law. His pleadings were marked by inflammatory and unprofessional language, including references to the case as one involving “domestic terrorism.”
Following the litigation, it was discovered that Chiow filed a false police report, in which he claimed that leafletting homes in his neighborhood constituted “stalking.” He also falsely alleged that the printed materials that had been distributed were threatening.
Later litigation also revealed that Chiow had redacted documents in discovery to change their meaning and engaged in spoliation of evidence, having failed to produce at least 15 documents expressly within the ambit of discovery.
As of May 2022, neither Grace Episcopal Church, nor the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, have taken action to address misconduct by Malm, Steffensen, or Chiow. Similarly, the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts refuses to address Malm’s perjury before the Massachusetts courts and false statements to Marion Massachusetts police officials.