Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Colorado Springs: confused reports

Updated Thursday morning

The case of Don Armstrong former rector of Grace Church in Colorado Springs, now a priest in CANA, is back in the news.

Episcopal Café has two recent articles which contain links to pretty much all the reports of the previous few days (see also in the comments).
Armstrong pleads no contest
Speaking of diminishing Christian witness…

The latest newspaper report at the time of writing this is in the Denver Post.
Priest and Pueblo attorney general interpret plea agreement in different ways

The Rev. Don Armstrong, who founded St. George’s Anglican Church after he and his congregation lost the battle for the Grace Church building in Colorado Springs, called the disposition Friday of his criminal theft case “divine intervention.”

Pueblo District Attorney Bill Thiebaut, whose office provided a special prosecutor, called the disposition “just.” And the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado, which last year took back Grace Church in civil court from Armstrong after he became an Anglican priest, said the end of the criminal case would bring “healing to all those harmed by Armstrong’s actions.”

Yet reports and interpretation of the plea deal have created confusion…

Update

Episcopal Café has a further report, Truth and clarity about Armstrong’s plea agreement which includes a link to the full text of the plea agreement (PDF) and statements from the Episcopal parish and the diocesan Chancellor.

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Comments

For the non-Americans in the readership, a plea of "no contest" or "nolo contendere" as it is sometimes rendered in Latin means the defendant accepts responsibility for the actions with which he is charged but accepts no guilt for them. Legally, it is still a conviction and carries the same possibilities of punishment as a jury determination of guilt or a guilty plea.

It is most often used in a situation where the prosecutor feels a trial will only obfuscate the facts and the defendant is unwilling or unable to mount a defense for monetary reasons or because there is none. It is, in some sense, a plea deal.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 21 September 2010 at 11:30am BST

You have to expect a certain amount of "spin" when dealing with such a story - however, one would hope a cleric would not do such PR damage control - I would take the government agent's statement more seriously since he is not as involved or as threatened on a personal level.

Posted by: ettu on Tuesday, 21 September 2010 at 12:38pm BST

This whole 'Don Armstrong' episode has taken on a new turn with the latest news from the courts. Once championed by the leaders of CANA, Armstrong's reputed 'misdemeanours' made them quickly disown him.

However, it is interesting to see how sites like 'the Voice of Anglican Orthodoxy', *virtueonline*, the squeaky trumpet voice of ACNA and the Global South, are ready to rehabilitate him in the wake of his recent willingness to technically plead 'guilty' to one minor charge, in order to be let off the other dozen or so filed against him. Watch for David Virtue's dramatic turnaround in sympathies.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 21 September 2010 at 12:43pm BST

The following is taken from Fr. Armstrong's plea agreement with an accompanying explanation of Colorado law posted at the website Stand Firm.


From the Plea Agreement in Case No. 09-CR-1950:

“1. The defendant pleads nolo contendre (sic)to count Number Fifteen of the Indictment which charges a violation of C.R.S. 18-4-401(1), (4), as amended (a class three felony), in that the defendant committed the offense of Theft-Series ($15,000 or More).

“The factual basis for this plea will be the factual basis contained in the Indictment.

The defendant will further enter an Alford plea pursuant to North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25, 91 S.Ct. 160, 27 L.Ed.2d 162 (1970), as to an added Count Twenty-One, Theft ($500-$1,000), C.R.S. 18-4-401(1)(2)(b.5) (a class one misdemeanor). There is no factual basis to support this charge, however, the defendant is entering a plea to this charge to obtain the benefit of a plea arrangement in which he is receiving a deferred sentence to a felony”

From the Colorado Supreme Court, People v. Darlington, 105 P.3d 230:
“We have held that, for the purpose of a criminal case, a plea of nolo contendere is fully equivalent to a plea of guilty. See People v. Birdsong, 958 P.2d 1124, 1127 (Colo. 1998); Jones v. District Court of County of Routt, 196 Colo. 261, 264, 584 P.2d 81, 84 (Colo. 1978); People v. Carpenter, 709 P.2d 72, 73 (Colo. App. 1985). The sole distinction we have made between a guilty plea and a plea of nolo contendere is that the latter gives the defendant the advantage of not being estopped from denying her fault in a civil action based upon the same facts. Jones, 196 Colo. at 264, 584 P.2d at 83. Where the defendant knowingly, voluntarily, and understandingly pleads nolo contendere she may be punished just as if she had entered a plea of guilty. See Alford, 400 U.S. at 36 n.8; People v. Meier, 133 Colo. 338, 340, 296 P.2d 232, 233 (1956); Young, 53 Colo. at 253, 125 P. at 118. Therefore, there is no distinction between a plea of nolo contendere and a plea of guilty for sentencing purposes. People v. Canino, 181 Colo. 207, 210, 508 P.2d 1273, 1274 (1973).” Hat Tip to S. Standish


Posted by: EmilyH on Tuesday, 21 September 2010 at 1:25pm BST

See what happens when you take the Bible literally? (Lk 16:1-9)

BTW, the link to the second Episcopal Cafe story is missing the initial 'h' in "http"

Posted by: Nom de Plume on Tuesday, 21 September 2010 at 1:36pm BST

This is the kind of bargain that prosecutors and defendants strike from time to time precisely because each gets something out of it. The prosecutor avoids the time and expense of a lengthy trial; the defendant gets to say he never admitted guilt.

Needless to say, however, a defendant does not accept such a bargain unless he has good reason to believe he might be found guilty.

Posted by: jnwall on Tuesday, 21 September 2010 at 2:07pm BST


This link isn´t working: missing h?

ttp://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/church_and_state/speaking_of_diminishing_christ.html

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Tuesday, 21 September 2010 at 2:35pm BST

Mr. Armstrong and his lawyer are trying hard to bend the facts to suit their delusions. In most places in the US, an Alford plea means that, without admitting guilt, the pleader admits the evidence is strong enough to convict, but the one taking the plea will accept a summary judgment on penalty rather than face trial.

It will be interesting to see what the terms of probation will be. A standard one is regularly reporting to a probation officer - once a month is fairly standard I think.. Sometimes there are travel restrictions or restrictions on activities [no driving for a drunk driver, for example]. I hope one of his conditions will be paying back all or part of the money he embezzled.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Tuesday, 21 September 2010 at 2:38pm BST

A release by Fr Armstrong's CANA parish states: "Specifically, Father Armstrong made an Alford plea, which is a special plea used when there is no admission of guilt or basis of fact for the charge, but the charge, in this case a misdemeanor, is accepted to take advantage of an offer, in this case to reduce the original 20 felony counts to a single misdemeanor...."

Their interpretation is not correct. Rather than summarize it, I'll cut and paste two paragraphs from USLegal.com.

"In the law of the United States, an Alford plea is a plea in criminal court. In this plea, the defendant does not admit the act and asserts innocence, but admits that sufficient evidence exists with which the prosecution could likely convince a judge or jury to find the defendant guilty. Upon receiving an Alford plea from a defendant, the court may immediately pronounce the defendant guilty and impose sentence as if the defendant had otherwise been convicted of the crime.

"The Alford plea differs slightly from the nolo contendere ("no contest") plea. An Alford plea is simply a form of a guilty plea, and, as with other guilty pleas, the judge must see there is some factual basis for the plea. Therefore, a defendant's prior conviction via an Alford plea can be considered in future trials; and it will count as a "strike" if a three strikes law applies. On the other hand, a nolo contendere plea is in no way an admission of guilt, and it cannot be introduced in future trials as evidence of incorrigibility. However, courts do not have to accept a plea of nolo contendere, and usually do not, except in certain nonviolent cases."

Things are not quite as rosey for Fr Amstrong as some would have them be.

JM

Posted by: James Mackay on Tuesday, 21 September 2010 at 4:06pm BST

"You have to expect a certain amount of "spin" when dealing with such a story - however, one would hope a cleric would not do such PR damage control..."

Armstrong and the whole attempted coup by these snakes intent on destroying the Episcopal Church is nothing but ongoing PR damage control. These people have to "spin" everything otherwise the extent of their lies and bungled attempts at grabbing power and establishing legitimacy look even more foolish then they already are. Even if Armstrong were found guilty of murder his followers would find a way to spin it to his favor and their relief.

Posted by: pete on Tuesday, 21 September 2010 at 7:20pm BST

"“1. The defendant pleads nolo contendre (sic)to count Number Fifteen of the Indictment which charges a violation of C.R.S. 18-4-401(1), (4), as amended (a class three felony), in that the defendant committed the offense of Theft-Series ($15,000 or More)."

So Armstrong pled nolo contendere to a felony, and is now denying that he did any such thing, insisting that he only pled to the (additional) misdemeanor? How do the courts view this particular type of lying? Are there consequences?

It's heartening to note that not everybody on the schismatic team is drinking the Kool-Aid on this, judging from posts and comments at SF.

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Tuesday, 21 September 2010 at 8:49pm BST

"For the non-Americans in the readership, a plea of 'no contest' or 'nolo contendere' as it is sometimes rendered in Latin means the defendant accepts responsibility for the actions with which he is charged but accepts no guilt for them."

In other words: "I didn't do it, but I admit that the prosecutor will prove beyond a reasonable doubt that I did."

I suppose the equivalent in Civil Court is: "I didn't take the money, but I will pay it back."

Tune in later for the continuing saga.....

Posted by: Nom de Plume on Tuesday, 21 September 2010 at 9:30pm BST

Hey Don: Jesus didn't tell us to be as "Nolo Contendre" as doves, did he? ;-/

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 21 September 2010 at 10:02pm BST

Whatever one might say, the Revd Armstrong has not told the whole truth.

That seems to be a repeating characteristic of this founder member of the Anglican Communion Institute. Here, on the old ACI web page hosted by his parish, we found false claims about hundreds of "members" etc. It's very sad.

But I hope the diocese now press their claim in the civil court.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Tuesday, 21 September 2010 at 11:47pm BST

This from T19:

"I will never believe (short of Father [sic] Armstrong’s saying so) that he knowingly committed a crime of any kind when he used funds for his son’s tuition. I think much of this depended on the Episcopal diocese’s presentation of the “facts” to the D.A. I have no doubt that the finding would not be universal in other jurisdictions."

Well, now "facts" are not "facts" because they inconveniently condemn one of their own. You can be sure if the criminal had been a mainstream Episcopalian ACNA and the other conspirators would be screaming for locking this person up in a maximum security prison. But hey, pass the Kool-Aid!

Posted by: pete on Wednesday, 22 September 2010 at 12:12am BST

Several commenters and the newspaper say they have copies of the plea agreement and judgement.

Do you suppose anyone would be so kind as to post a copy, say here?

It would answer all the questions.

TIA

Posted by: Tim Stewart on Wednesday, 22 September 2010 at 4:56am BST

Don: Jesus didn't tell us to be as "Nolo Contendre" as doves, did he? ;-/

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 21 September 2010 at 10:02pm BST

No ! It was as Nolo Contenre as serpents

--- the dovely innocence seems to be missing !

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Wednesday, 22 September 2010 at 2:41pm BST

Episcopal Cafe has posted a letter from the rector of Armstrong's former church, with an attached legal document, that considerably clarifies what really went down. It is not the rosy picture that Armstrong paints in writing to his current church. The full extent of what his plea will entail for him will become known when he comes before a judge to learn the terms of his probation. I'll not try an summarize these documents, as they are quite long and detailed. The picture thay paint of Armstrong is not a pretty one.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Wednesday, 22 September 2010 at 9:33pm BST

Episcopal Cafe has posted letters from the leadership of the parish and and the diocese, which may be read at http://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/other_churches/about_armstrongs_plea_agreemen.html .

It has also posted a link to the actual plea agreement (posted on the parish website), which may be read at http://www.graceststephensepiscopal.org/Assets/Armstrong_Plea_Agreement_20100917.pdf .

Posted by: dr.primrose on Wednesday, 22 September 2010 at 10:13pm BST

A poster at Baby Blue's (bookguybaltmd)has given a link to the plea agreement. Very different from the spin the Armstrong camp has tried to put on the case. http://www.graceststephensepiscopal.org/Assets/Armstrong_Plea_Agreement_20100917.pdf

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Wednesday, 22 September 2010 at 11:30pm BST

And now Episcopal Cafe is reporting that "Armstrong's parish website removes statement":

>> It's an incremental [sic; do they mean "incredible"?] development, but the statement defending CANA/ACNA priest Don Armstrong issued on his parish's website has been taken down without announcement. This followed the wide publication yesterday of the plea agreement Armstrong had entered into. The statement had appeared on the parish website in two places, under "Dragon Tales" (parish announcements) and under "Rector Recommends". The statement lives on as a Google cache of the parish website. <<

There's more, with some choice quotations from a Colorado Springs Independent article. See http://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/other_churches/armstrongs_parish_website_remo.html

Posted by: David da Silva Cornell on Thursday, 23 September 2010 at 2:14pm BST

Martin Reynolds: I believe Don Armstrong was the Director of The Anglican Institute, which included Bishop Michael Marshall and others. It had been based in St Louis before it moved to Colorado Springs. Perhaps it had 'members' -- they used to put on conferences and may have had such a category. This was the Institute that was operating when the trust fund spending for Armstrong's children took place.

Posted by: AI on Thursday, 23 September 2010 at 4:52pm BST

One other possible distinction between an outright guilty verdict or plea, and the no contest business in a criminal case might involve subsequent contingent civil liabilities. A no contest plea cannot be introduced in any future court proceeding as evidence to support, say, a civil damages claim stemming from the same circumstances as the criminal case; despite the plea being legally equivalent to a guilty verdict.

Whatever payments or fines sentencing imposes will be it; no additional financial or other civil liability will apply to Armstrong. He would, per most government rules, and per some private employer rules, still have to disclose a legal felony conviction (plus the misdemeanor) on any job applications.

I take it the conservative Anglicans who hobnob with Armstrong now believe he either was falsely accused in the first place, or at least has been rehabilitated in all senses of that word?

PS, can't resist noting that Armstrong is the sort of conservative Anglican who is always insisting that queer folks must repent so long and so loud and so publicly; while he himself does pirouettes and backflips to sidestep taking responsibility for how he mis-spent church trust funds as rector.

This is the future of the new fangled global covenant communion, if we do not pray, talk across our Anglican differences, and resist. Yet again conservative policing and fiddling with the money go hand in hand along the garden Anglican paths?

Posted by: drdanfee on Thursday, 23 September 2010 at 5:14pm BST

AI on Thursday, 23 September 2010 - Wonders if I have confused the claim to a substantial membership with the Anglican Institute.

While it was a very tangled web the lads from the ACI were involved in as the relationship with Armstrong and his parish exploded - and I believe that someone did claim at the time that copy from the Anglican Institute had just been pasted into the ACI website - it WAS the ACI claiming a substantial membership.

I remember as the story broke (On Kendall Harmon's Blog and in real time) bringing this false claim to the attention of one of the other ACI fellas and he saying he had never actually read the claims laid out on their web pages and that they were untrue. There were questions too of how the resources of the parish were spent supporting the work of ACI - they remain largely unanswered and I guess might continue so.

So the answer to your question Al is - Yes, there was a deliberate attempt to deceive, trying to make the ACI appear a great deal more than a few guys and a website.

Just as now, something more than the BEST POSSIBLE interpretation has been placed on the outcome of this criminal investigation, and the repeated claims by Don Armstrong that this criminal investigation following a Grand jury indictment were part of a devilish theological plot by TEC against his particular brand of faith is just so patently untrue while also being cruel and hurtful to the hundreds who stayed behind at the Church after he was ejected.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Friday, 24 September 2010 at 12:06pm BST

There is a very good report here:

http://anglocatontheprowl.blogspot.com/2010/09/big-break-but-not-pass.html

It ends with a warning that suggests Mr Armstrong is likely to spend the next few months in even more distress and turmoil - of his own making.

I do feel sorry for him and remember past occasions when I have been economical with the truth - or celebrated a victory too early, and worse .... Heaven forefend!!

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Friday, 24 September 2010 at 12:48pm BST

M.R.--You do seem almost obsessed about this! I'd say if ACI -- not the former AI -- had 'members' in the sense you imply, it would be the communion partners movement. That is the only 'membership' it has ever worked closely with. ACI has always been a think tank and a team of consultants, called from the former SEAD group by Drexel Gomez, Maurice Sinclair, John Chew and others. Its web materials are very clear. Nowhere does it speak of members. Maybe you are just too far removed from the US scene to realize that ACI is the continuation of SEAD: it publishes books, pamphlets, organizes conference, produces DVDs, continues its work of consulting, and runs a web-site. What Don Armstrong may or may not have said about AI -- or ACI -- is irrelevant. ACI was not in existence when the troubles under discussion were emerging. Don Armstrong has enough problems without adding to them some odd charge of making up an ACI membership group.

Posted by: AI on Friday, 24 September 2010 at 1:44pm BST

Reverend Armstrong seems good as spreading confusion does nt he ? It is a great defence and a form of confusing veiled attack.

Similarly all these changing and morphing names and initials - the SEADS, the ACIs, the CANAs, the FoCAs etc all tending towards confusion, anxiety and perplexity.

Shifting sands not to be trusted / stepped upon !

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Friday, 24 September 2010 at 8:44pm BST

I confess I cannot see why ACI is being brought into this discussion by Reynolds at all. As has been noted, Don Armstrong's troubles focus on misuse of funds for his children's university education. This predates ACI and does not involve ACI. SEAD was an organisation in the US that worked out of N VA and the Virgina Seminary under Professors David Scott and Chris Hancock. It was in healthy business for over 15 years. ACI leaders were involved in it. I was its President. It had nothing to do with the Anglican Institute (about which I know as much as anyone else). Because the work of SEAD -- ecumenism and anglicanism -- was buffeted by the sad struggles of the late 90s and 2000s, it shifted its focus to anglicanism as such. There is no effort to deceive. If people thought we were a membership society of 1000s, maybe it was because our productivity was so impressive!

Posted by: cseitz on Friday, 24 September 2010 at 9:58pm BST

For background on Armstrong & ACI, see Sarah Dylan Breuer's 2007 post at "Sarah Laughed" - http://www.sarahlaughed.net/anglicana/2007/04/when_is_an_inst.html

Sarah Dylan Breuer was elected to the Executive Council of TEC in 2009.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Friday, 24 September 2010 at 11:20pm BST

I keep looking for some sort of response from CANA or ACNA. Nothing so far. It makes me think much better of how ECUSA's ENS handles things.

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Saturday, 25 September 2010 at 1:23am BST

Lapinbizarre makes reference, before I was able, to Breuer's article, which sets out the quite detailed connections. I encourage those concerned about AI and ACI and Armstrong to read it.

I also note the statement of cseitz--Christopher Seitz, I assume. He states that he was president of SEAD (Scholarly Engagement with Anglican Doctrine, as I recall), which had a healthy business of over 15 years, during which time it had no connection to the Anglican Institute of Grace Church. Yes, fair enough. But for three years, 2004-2007, from SEAD's dissolution and reconstitution as ACI, until its break from Grace Church, ACI's activities, sponsorship, etc., seem--on the basis of Breuer's work--to be indistinguishable from Grace's AI, including sharing an Executive Director in Fr. Armstrong. As reported in the press, the misapplication of funds took place up into 2006, and according to Fr. Armstrong himself (as cited in both Breuer's and Fr. Jakes's discussions), the accounts in question were "AI/ACI" accounts. And that's why ACI is brought up in connection with this case by Reynolds and others.

But it's a complicated case--if I've misunderstood, or inferred incorrectly, I apologize and ask for correction.

Posted by: Christopher (P.) on Saturday, 25 September 2010 at 2:40am BST

Thanks to Lapinbizarre for unearthing that 2007 posting; it, and the follow-up comments, are precious and instructive. It is a real blessing to have retrievable evidence of what was said, and when.

One of the best comments, in my view, is from Sarah herself, responding to protestations by some willing to believe some/most of what Mr. Seitz and others were contending at that time, almost in the mode of Sgt. Schultz of "Hogan's Heroes" fame.

Sarah said: "I do believe it's probable that, despite Seitz's comments, the remaining ACI board and officers were victims and not perpetrators if there was any fiscal wrongdoing. But that just underscores a lesson that I thought was pretty ingrained in most of us post-Watergate: The cover-up is often worse than the crime."

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Saturday, 25 September 2010 at 4:21am BST

Thanks Lapinbizzare, yes Sarah Dylan Breuer's post highlight the smoke and mirrors perfectly.

I had forgotten that she even quotes the exchange between the President of the ACI and myself.

Seitz is mistaken in thinking the Anglican Communion Institute then claimed thousands of members,no, the quote from the Anglican Communion Institutes website I asked him to explain was

"With several hundred members and supporters, the Anglican Communion Institute stands for …..” —

At the time my report on his own website wasn't considered an obsession by Seitz he replied:


"I am unsure where this came from, and to what ‘members’ refers. Thank you for pointing it out.
ACI has no ‘members’ I am aware of! "

When one consider how obsessional the ACI has become about the legal framework within which the ACC seeks to flourish and seem quite happy to demean, diminish and destroy that Anglican Communion Instrument because structural changes (they say loudly) have brought it into disrepute, and then, look back at the scandalous way they failed to manage and comport themselves properly as a group, and where their failure to have due care resulted in deception and their non-existent structures seems to have provided the conduit for criminal acts, then it's no wonder I show an interest.

I would still like to know, where they were banking the money specifically given for the work of the ACI and what name was printed on the cheques these fellows pocketed for their travel expenses, sabbaticals or conferences when Don Armstrong was bankrolling them out of parish funds to "preserve their independence" - Did it read "Anglican Communion Institute" or what?

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Saturday, 25 September 2010 at 10:04am BST

Christopher--you can be sure in a case that has taken this long to unfold, investigators did all the work required to determine where the money went. ACI was completely cleared. They are not mentioned in any document in the legal proceedings. I have told Mr Reynolds and others to phone the Episcopal Bishop of Colorado, as well.
Jerry -- we were not victims of anything. Our work moves along very well. We were involved in no fiscal wrongdoing.
Martin -- failed at what? See comments above. We were not involved and no charges were made against us. Phone the DA or the Bishop. They can explain this to you.

Posted by: cseitz on Saturday, 25 September 2010 at 1:57pm BST

This Preludium thread, comments included, is also relevant: http://anglicanfuture.blogspot.com/2008/04/anglican-communion-institute-and.html

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Saturday, 25 September 2010 at 2:45pm BST

Christopher Seitz--I am glad to hear what you report. I looked as hard as I could to find more information, especially the specifics of the indictment against Fr. Armstrong, but could not come up with them.

If it means anything, I have not thought that the ACI had instigated the culpable actions here, but rather had been caught up in them. But I disagree with your assessment: you have been victimized, in that your good name was taken advantage of, for others' benefit. That's a great loss. And as much as I disagree with the theological positions of the ACI, I've not doubted its integrity.

Posted by: Christopher (P.) on Saturday, 25 September 2010 at 7:22pm BST

Thank you Christopher (P.). I probably misunderstood you, forgive me. For others:

"I believe I have gone the extra mile in answering questions, some of which are irrelevant, and we owe TA no more information than what we provide/d for the States of VA, CO, and TX. I am trying to be helpful but fear this is a discussion calculated to go on forever. For example, SEAD/ACI has probably hosted 25 conferences since 1997 and it does not lose money on these or bill anybody; that would make no sense; you are welcome to attend and pay the fees like everyone else. We are organising one at present on The Lord’s Prayer to round out our publication series (Ten Commandments and Nicene Creed). Be warmly invited. We are also doing an event on evangelism and world mission in Orlando, details to follow. To repeat. 1. The possible misuse of funds in Colorado Springs was extensively investigated and much time and money spent on this. 2. ACI was not implicated in any way. 3. For those who do not believe this or want more details, please pursue this with a neutral source like the Chancellor of the Diocese of Colorado or the District Attorney (neither of whom we know). Our prayers go out to Colorado Springs and the divided parish, struggling through this parlous season." C Seitz

Posted by: cseitz on Saturday, 25 September 2010 at 7:50pm BST

Christopher Seitz replied: "Jerry -- we were not victims of anything. Our work moves along very well. We were involved in no fiscal wrongdoing."

Christopher, I would suggest that if there had been less duck and cover by ACI from the beginning, and less obfuscation by ACI, and more willingness on the part of ACI to admit the historical connections with AI, but then disassociate itself from the (then alleged) wrongdoings of Don Armstrong, that you would have benefited greatly, and lost little or nothing of your reputation.

I don't find anyone charging you, in evidentiary fashion, with fiscal wrongdoing. Nor did I so charge you.

I am happy for you that your work moves along very well, even though I too would disagree with most of the theological positions of ACI.

But I do feel, as Sarah suggested in 2007, that you seem to have been very much victimized by Mr. Armstrong and AI, and that continued denial is not to your benefit.

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Saturday, 25 September 2010 at 7:57pm BST

Jerry -- I appreciate your concern but ACI has never denied anything. It has simply not sought to accuse people--Don Armstrong or Grace Church--of anything during an investigation. That seemed only proper. Did it allow for lots of conjecture and false accusation? Yes, but that comes with trying to let the process unfold according to due process. Will people use silence as an opportunity to accuse (and charge with fiscal wrongdoing -- you are wrong, as Mr Reynolds and others have done exactly that)? Of course they will. ACI has sought to do the honorable thing and let the case against Fr Armstrong proceed and not offer any accusation or conjecture. That case seems now to have reached much of its conclusion. Grace and peace.

Posted by: cseitz on Saturday, 25 September 2010 at 9:44pm BST

Christopher Seitz reads me perfectly.

Don Armstrong was a founder and billed as Executive Director of the Anglican Communion Institute when these crimes took place. The money appears to have been syphoned off through an account titled Anglican Communion Institute. At this time the Anglican Communion Institute website lied about their own make-up and structure. The purpose of that deliberate deception was to give the Anglican Communion Institute and the papers issued in its name an inflated status . It should be born in mind that in the UK the word Institute is a "protected" word that can only be granted to an organisation by permission of the Secretary of State, use of the word without permission is a criminal offence.

Recently on a similar thread Christopher Seitz was quick to remind me of the gathered wisdom of the ACI leadership ( http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/31694/#422493 ), and my contention has been and remains that if the ACI had been set up as the website CLAIMED it had been with officers and a supervising board - then none of this would have happened. The gathered wisdom of such mighty intellects took no time at all to set up ACI Inc in the immediate aftermath of this scandal. If there were cheques circulating with ACI on them these wise lads should have instantly demanded full access to the details of the account with the right to countersign.

I think the respected Ephraim Radner puts my position quite clearly just a few posts above the one quoted above when he says:
"At this point, (I am).... not jumping to conclusions; we are pressing for clarifications in the midst of deeply troubling questions that have arisen."

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Monday, 27 September 2010 at 10:38am BST

Martin Reynolds is not making this up about "Institute" being a protected word in the UK, see http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/about/gbhtml/gp1.shtml#ch3

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 27 September 2010 at 1:53pm BST

1. Don Armstrong was the founder neither of AI or ACI. 2. 'Institute' may well be an inflated word in the UK; it isn't in the US which makes your point irrelevant and self-referential both 3. There were no such 'checks' so there was nothing to pursue. 4. This was a State and Federal legal proceeding and so it worked its inexorable way through the facts and files, and ACI was never a factor in any of the charges. You just keep repeating yourself and it is now tiresome. grace and peace.

Posted by: cseitz on Monday, 27 September 2010 at 3:34pm BST

Christopher Seitz: "You just keep repeating yourself and it is now tiresome."

And the pot doth lecture the kettle on its blackness.

The ACI consistently held itself to be something more than it was. It was, in fact, nothing more than a handful of guys with a website. It pretended to be a quasi-official Anglican think tank.

It was only after one of its directors ran himself into a legal and ethical ditch that the ACI came clean about what it was and what it was not.

Now Christopher comes along with his usual historical revisionism (not unlike his claim that Samuel Seabury intended the Episcopal Church to be subordinate to Canterbury in a previous thread).

Well, Chris, one is moved to say saomething like: "You just keep repeating yourself and it is now tiresome."

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Monday, 27 September 2010 at 6:46pm BST

With all the attention to ACI no point in missing an opportunity to to point to some of our recent work which is available for purchase. For the DVD series, “Anglicanism – A Gift in Christ” see our website. Recent publications include E. Radner, The World in the Shadow of God (2010) and C.Seitz, The Goodly Fellowship of the Prophets (2009), both available at www.amazon.com. Our website will keep you up to date on communion affairs and conferences. Thank you for continuing such a keen interest in ACI.

Posted by: cseitz on Monday, 27 September 2010 at 9:36pm BST

"Our website will keep you up to date on communion affairs and conferences. Thank you for continuing such a keen interest in ACI."

- C.Seitz -

As someone once said - 3 'academics' & a web-site - not to be trusted as a reliable gauge of TEC polity or theology - like 'virtueonline', with whom it shares the more scurrilous 'news'.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 10:36am BST

Thanks, Ron Smith. You might also be interested in previous ACI publications from our public conferences, still for sale and useful for parish life: C Seitz, Nicene Christianity: The Future for a New Ecumenism, ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Brazos Press, 2002) and I Am The LORD Your God: Christian Reflections on the Ten Commandments, ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2005). If you have suggestions for our next conference and volume on The Lord’s Prayer, kindly alert us via www.anglicancommunioninstitute.com. On the topic of anglicanism and ecclesiology, you might also find useful Radner’s The End of the Church (1998; on ecclesial division in the West), Hope Among the Fragments (2004), and with Philip Turner and Stan Hauerwas, The Fate of Communion (2006). Many of these essays were given at SEAD and ACI conferences, and two further volumes from SEAD/ACI work (Reclaiming Faith and Canon and Creed) are also still in print. www.amazon.com has a full list. Grace and peace.

Posted by: cseitz on Tuesday, 28 September 2010 at 3:02pm BST

Bibliography as discourse.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Wednesday, 29 September 2010 at 4:04pm BST

According to the 2009 ACI tax 990 EZ tax return, The Rev. Mr. Seitz is the president of ACI. He works 10 hours/week and earns $35,750 dollars/ yr with a pension benefit of $11,385. ACI received 70,000 in contributions last year and spent 45,074. No other of its officers or directors are compensated however, ACI spent $52,135 on "independent contractors". with a 29,812 conference expense. Some of the funds it expended were spent overseas. Books are in the hands of Frank Fuller P.O. Box 7544 Beaumont TX 77726 The tax return is available online from GuideStar. It would appear that The Reverend Mr. Seitz has a legitimate and personal interest in ACI's success. What baffles me is, when ACI was being managed by its Executive Director Don Armstrong, its chief contributors, Seitz, Radner and Turner, appeared to be unaware of the costs to manage it.
TBL

Posted by: TBL on Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 12:44am BST

Thanks for that valuable information, TBL. Have you any data on the emoluments of the proprietor of 'vitueonline' the 'largest' self-proclaimed *sole Orthodox Anglican* web-site? I have noticed that he appeals for public donations, and is therefore probably open to public scrutiny. This site is often wont to publish items from ACI.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 11:38am BST
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