Anglican Watch

Spotlight on abuse: Episcopal priest Robert “Bob” Hiller Malm

Bob Malm, perjuring priest

Following graduation from Yale Divinity School in 1977, Episcopal priest Bob Malm was ordained in the Diocese of North Carolina in 1978. He served as an associate at St. Mary’s Episcopal, Highpoint, NC, from 1977 to 1979.

Subsequently, he briefly taught at the Blue Ridge School, in Dyke VA, before serving as assistant to the rector at the Anglo-Catholic Church of the Advent in Boston.

From 1983 to 1989, he served as rector of Christ Church in Portsmouth, NH.

Subsequently, Malm served as rector of Anglo-Catholic Grace Episcopal Church in Alexandria, VA, where he served until his retirement in 2019.

During his tenure there, Malm repeatedly filed false police reports and civil complaints against church member (and later editor of Anglican Watch) Eric Bonetti, whom he claimed had “threatened” and “stalked” him. 

During the ensuing litigation, Malm repeatedly committed perjury, including falsely claiming that Bonetti’s late mother, Sigrid Yahner, had contacted him multiple times to set up appointments, only to no-show.

Subsequently, Malm lied under oath to a Massachusetts judge, denying that he had previously committed perjury and claiming that “he didn’t even know [Sigrid Yahner’s] name,” despite referencing her by name in his original perjury. 

Moreover, he had previously been the subject of a disciplinary complaint by Yahner, so he knew her name at all relevant times.

Declining to follow a recommendation from a Title IV intake officer that the Diocese mediate the dispute, Bishop Shannon Johnston and Bishop Suffragan Susan Goff refused to take action, even when Malm attempted, in violation of state law, to subpoena Bonetti’s then terminally ill mother. Diocesan officials stated they “didn’t want to get involved” and refused to provide the pastoral response required under church canons.

Malm repeatedly engaged in witness tampering and intimidation, also criminal offenses in Virginia.

Meanwhile, Malm’s attorney, parishioner Jeffery Chiow, then a partner with Rogers, Joseph, O’Donnell, repeatedly engaged in spoliation of evidence and proffered various fabrications to the court. Anglican Watch later discovered that Chiow filed a false police report against Bonetti, claiming that he was being “stalked.” Subsequently, Chiow moved to the law firm of Greenburg Traurig, LLP, where he is a shareholder.

Following his retirement, Malm served as interim rector of St. Gabriel’s, Marion, Massachusetts, where he continued to file false police reports and frivolous civil cases against Bonetti based on perjurious statements. The Diocese of Massachusetts and bishop Alan Gates refused to consider church disciplinary complaints about Malm’s perjury while serving in the Diocese.

As of Lent 2022, Malm remained a priest in good standing and served as interim of St. Peter’s Episcopal in Buzzards Bay, MA, scene of previous sexual abuse. Meanwhile, Malm’s perjury remains in litigation in multiple courts, with Episcopal insurance carrier Church Pension Group defending Malm.

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) subsequently issued a written statement calling on the Episcopal Church to hold Malm accountable. To date, the denomination has ignored SNAP despite a steep decline in the number of pledging units at Malm’s former parish.

At Malm’s retirement, Grace Church named part of the building after him, dedicating the so-called “new” narthex as the Malm Narthex. 

Thus, Grace Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia openly endorse criminal conduct by clergy and treat it as worthy of honor and recognition. Moreover, Bishop Shannon Johnston has said he supports Malm, and lied to church members, claiming that issues with Malm’s conduct “were investigated long ago.”

Anglican Watch reminds readers that Caroline Parkinson, then a diocesan Title IV intake officer, neither has investigatory training nor is independent of the Diocese. 

Moreover, Parkinson’s calling Malm and asking him if he engaged in misconduct and doing the same with Malm’s assistant Leslie Steffensen, is of no probative value. 

Similarly, the Diocese of Virginia has ignored Parkinson’s repeated violation of church canons, including her breach of mandated confidentiality. Intake officer Sven van Baars, who similarly sandbagged complaints about Malm’s perjury and witness tampering, also remains a priest in good standing.

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