Grace Episcopal Alexandria Sued in Federal District Court
Fairfax, VA (Law Firm Newswire) April 03, 2021 – A Northern Virginia-based plaintiff is suing his former church, his former priest, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, and the City of Alexandria in federal district court.
The action, filed by Eric J. Bonetti in the Eastern District of Virginia, alleges that Grace Episcopal Church, located in Alexandria Virginia; its former rector, the Rev. Robert H. Malm; the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia; and the City of Alexandria conspired in filing a fabricated lawsuit in state court against the plaintiff, in which they falsely alleged that plaintiff had threatened the church and its rector. The suit also asserts that Malm committed perjury in the course of the prior litigation, as well as engaging in witness tampering and concealment of evidence. The suit seeks unspecified damages.
The lawsuit also claims that the City of Alexandria engaged in discriminatory, biased policing by assisting Malm and the church in their previous lawsuit, while ignoring the plaintiff’s complaints of potential criminal activity on the part of the other defendants.
The lawsuit further asserts that the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has known for some time of Malm’s alleged perjury, but has declined to do anything on the basis that criminal charges have not been filed.
The City of Alexandria and other defendants have filed motions to dismiss. A preliminary hearing in the matter is set for late May.
A related suit, filed in Pennsylvania, claims that Malm illegally attempted to subpoena Bonetti’s late mother, then dying of COPD, in the previous litigation.
“Mom was incontinent, dependent on oxygen, suffering from profound anxiety, and unable to care for herself,” says Bonetti. “Not only did the church fail to seek leave of court as required by Pennsylvania law, but Mom was utterly unable to participate in a deposition. How the church can claim to be Christian while doing that to a dying woman is beyond me.”
The plaintiff and his husband were the first same-sex couple married in the church. Bonetti is a former attorney, now retired.
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