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A Wealthy Church in New York City Uses Church Property as Collateral in Financing Expensive Real Estate Deals

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Betsy Combier       (Page 3 of 3 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     Permalink

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Church attorney Mr Lederer and the law firm and all five of their former and present lawyers for the defendants are paid by Guide One, a very wealthy insurance company based in West Des Moines Iowa. On October 14, 2005, I wrote the Senior Management of Guide One a letter about the information I had about how their representative at the two trials of the church in the courtroom of NY State Supreme Court Lottie Wilkins had been unfair, and how their hired gun, Adam Greenberg, had left all his notes in the garbage when the second trial was finished. The Senior VP and General Counsel, Mr. Thomas C. Farr, wrote me back that there was "an open claim"; I wrote back and asked what this open claim consisted of. One month later Guide One and Mr. Irvin Lederer “convinced” Supreme Court Judge Lottie Wilkins to sign an Injunction and Order of Prior Restraint on November 22, 2005, so that my information on the real-estate financing of property for Sandeep Mathrani of Vornado Realty Trust based upon the tax breaks of MAPC, would not be posted on my website, Parentadvocates.org. About a week before the Injunction was served on me, I received a telephone call from an anonymous person who told me, "You better be quiet about the church, or you will be dead."

I wrote a brief on my First Amendment rights, and won, on December 6, 2005. The Injunction was vacated.


What is a church's self-interest?

The question of malice is key to the inappropriate actions of Judge Wilkins. “Who has jurisdiction over this issue?" ”Were the actions taken by Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church toward Plaintiff done with malice?” “Were the actions ‘in the church’s self-interest?’” and, a crucial query, “What is a church’s self-interest?” IF a church has any self-interests, which cannot include the quest for money by means of withholding ashes, extortion and blackmail, can a judge discard the motive of malice without an open forum on the merits?

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The question of whether or not there is malice, which Plaintiff asserts there is, and therefore requests punitive damages, brings the question of intent. In the above-captioned action it is clear by reading the notes, transcripts, and deposition testimonies that CA, FRA, J. Richard Frey, Ann McChord and the other defendants intended on bringing about mental anguish and harm by throwing Plaintiff out of her church 16 days after her mother’s death, an act that has no precedence in the Presbyterian Church, is in violation of the church constitution, was “proven” wrong by the PJC, and for which the church hierarchy would not – because they denied ‘jurisdiction’ – give a remedy for. The general principal applicable to all torts can be stated: “The intent must be at least to bring about some sort of physical or mental effect upon another person but does not need to “harm” that person.

“’Substantial certainty’” is defined as: An occurrence is obviously “intentional” if the actor desires to bring it about. But tort law also calls it intentional if the actor didn’t desire it, but knew with substantial certainty that it would occur as a result of his action. See Rest 2d, 8A.” (TORTS, ch. 2-Intentional Torts Against the Person, p. 8).

Defendants knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that ordering me to reconcile with my sister – not the act itself but the interference in the life of my family – was morally wrong and illegal from the perspective that my church was taking sides in a devastating family tragedy, the death of my mother, and only 16 days after she died. Defendants intended to inflict the most mental harm possible.

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Similarly, “A person can have the intent necessary for an intentional tort even though he does not desire to ‘harm’ the victim, and does not have a hostile intent.” Therefore even if the Defendants did not want to actually harm her, the planning behind the removal from the church membership, the discussions with the Session of “my hostility towards my sister and the Will contest” which, when told to Session members on March 31, 1998 these members were ignorant that these claims were false (I was not invited to this meeting nor was I present and could not, therefore, rebut CA’s assertions).

Tort law holds that “…the intentional tortfeasor will be liable for virtually every result stemming directly or even somewhat indirectly from his conduct, however unlikely it might have seemed at the time of his act that this result would follow. Rest.2d, 435B”.

The wrong of the finding that the defendants’ actions- throwing me off of the church membership, withholding my mother’s ashes, and the other claims (complaint filed July, 1999) – were “justified”cannot be remedied by “ignorance of the law” due to the fact that Judge Wilkins did not specifically charge the jury with the information about the tort of “intentional torts against the person”: “…it is irrelevant that the defendant did not know that the action would constitute a tort or crime. Thus in the law of intentional torts, “ignorance of the law is no excuse”. (TORTS, Emmanuel, p. 9).

Judge Wilkins was determined to deny me any damages:

THE COURT: “In this case it is especially important to remove from the jury any evidence of the claim that I have already dismissed concerning the Plaintiff’s claim that she suffered severe emotional distress as a result of the actions of the church.”

How does a person justify the withholding of the cremated remains of a deceased person away from next of kin? If a prisoner is a serial killer on death row, and his mother dies, can the prison guard withhold her ashes from him? Where in the law is the criteria for this “justification?” The strongest reason for setting aside the verdict is the verdict. We have a very high standard for claiming the intentional infliction of emotional harm, therefore is the standard higher for withholding ashes? Or, is the New York State Supreme Court saying that a minister, solely on the basis of his job, may break the law and justifiably withhold the cremated remains of a parent from the next of kin because he or she wants to?

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These questions are not questions that can be answered easily, but certainly they are questions that cannot be answered without a jury, and without debate about exactly what a church’s self-interest might be, and whether or not a church HAS a self-interest outside of that of its’ collective membership. Additionally, why would a very wealthy church such as MAPC with an endowment of more than $30 million (2002 and 2003 audits) and contributions of more than $1 million every year have an interest in a Will of a long-time parishioner that included only an apartment, and then have protection for extortion in light of that interest given to them by the Supreme Court? These questions necessitate public debate and jury deliberation.

Judge Shafer adds,
“ The court notes that, although a motion for summary judgment must be supported by evidence in admissible form, defendants’ motion is supported, in the main, by an affidavit from an attorney who lacks personal knowledge of the matters to which he attests, and by depositions of several of the defendants. These depositions are not evidence in admissible form. See CPLR 3117.” (Shafer order, p. 6). Why, therefore, did Judge Shafer dismiss my claims in her order of 12/23/03?

CONCLUSION
Judge Lottie Wilkins violated the Plaintiff’s due process rights to a fair and unbiased trial by declaring a mistrial after only 2 hours of deliberation, refusing to answer a question from the jury, promoting disarray and disorder in her courtroom with biased testimony not based upon fact, ordering a second trial with an even more biased focus and then moving the court away from the rules in the CPLR in order to win a victory for a church and an insurance company.

 

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Betsy is an award-winning writer, video producer, and journalist. She is President of The E-Accountability Foundation, a non-profit company which does business as ParentAdvocates.org and asks questions of politicians, corporate leaders, and (more...)
 

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A Wealthy Church in New York City Uses Church Property as Collateral in Financing Expensive Real Estate Deals