Thinking Anglicans

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.

49
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
49 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
25 Comment authors
Father Ron SmithTBLTobias HallercseitzMalcolm+ Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

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… Read more »

ettu
Guest
ettu

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.

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

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.

EmilyH
Guest
EmilyH

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.… Read more »

Nom de Plume
Guest
Nom de Plume

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”

jnwall
Guest
jnwall

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.

Leonardo Ricardo
Guest

This link isn´t working: missing h?

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

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

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… Read more »

James Mackay
Guest
James Mackay

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… Read more »

pete
Guest
pete

“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… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest

““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… Read more »

Nom de Plume
Guest
Nom de Plume

“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…..

JCF
Guest
JCF

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

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

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.

pete
Guest
pete

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… Read more »

Tim Stewart
Guest
Tim Stewart

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

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

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 !

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

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.

dr.primrose
Guest
dr.primrose

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 .

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

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

David da Silva Cornell
Guest
David da Silva Cornell

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.… Read more »

AI
Guest
AI

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.

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

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… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

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… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

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!!

AI
Guest
AI

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… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

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 !

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

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… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

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.

Bill Dilworth
Guest

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.

Christopher (P.)
Guest
Christopher (P.)

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,… Read more »

Jerry Hannon
Guest
Jerry Hannon

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… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

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’… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

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… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

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

Christopher (P.)
Guest
Christopher (P.)

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,… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

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… Read more »

Jerry Hannon
Guest
Jerry Hannon

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.… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

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… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

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… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

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

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

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.

Malcolm+
Guest

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… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

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 http://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.

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“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’.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

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 http://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… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

Bibliography as discourse.

TBL
Guest
TBL

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… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

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.