UPPER SOUTH CAROLINA: Bishop Andrew Waldo Sued for Defamation, Civil Conspiracy by Priest
Also named in Lawsuit were Diocese, St. Mary's Senior Warden, and Diocesan Chancellor
By David W. Virtue
November 6, 2013
The Bishop of Upper South Carolina, Andrew Waldo, the diocese, the senior warden of St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Columbia, SC and the chancellor of the diocese Belton Zeigler have been sued by a former priest in the diocese, the Rev. Earnest Pollock for defamation, civil conspiracy, invasion of privacy and economic hardship.
Pollock, 67, an adjunct professor of religion at Midlands Technical College who serves on the pastoral staff of Lexington Medical Center as a volunteer, alleges that Waldo sent letters to three health care facilities in the Midlands of SC alleging that Pollock had misrepresented himself as an Episcopal priest.
Pollock told VOL that he was ordained by the late Episcopal Bishop of New York, the Rt. Rev. Paul Moore in 2001. He described Waldo's letter as "libelous and defamatory, placing him in a false light."
"I have had 30 years in clinical medicine and though I am now retired I am still busy in the counseling field."
Pollock resigned from the Episcopal Church in June of 2013 and is now under the auspices of another Anglican jurisdiction.
"I have a lengthy history of health care ministry in hospices, nursing homes, hospitals and as a college professor, teaching religion and psychology as a professor of religion at Midlands College, Columbia SC."
Pollock had been a member of St. Mary's for four years. Pollock has resigned from the church and has not attended the church in over a year.
The lawsuit also charges that on June 30, Steven Mungo, a millionaire home builder and the senior warden for St. Mary's Church in Columbia, SC read a letter from the church pulpit defaming Pollock, further charging that Pollock was "not ordained either in the Episcopal or Roman Catholic Church."
On August 1, 2013 Mungo called a special evening meeting where Pollock suspected he would again be defamed. Members of St. Mary's were required to sign a document promising not to reveal what would be said at the meeting. Pollock's lawyer Benjamin M. Mabry wrote a letter to Mungo and Waldo warning them not to mention Pollock "in any negative way during the meeting." However, during the meeting, the lawyer and chancellor of the Diocese, Belton Zeigler read a pronouncement defaming Pollock saying the priest was not ordained when in fact he had been ordained.
The lawsuit also alleges that on November 2011, Waldo and others, in a combined effort to damage Pollock's economic relationships, phoned Midlands Technical College and falsely defamed the priest by stating that he was not a priest and was not associated with the Upper SC diocese.
Pollock claims that Waldo slandered and libeled him intentionally, combining to damage and destroy his reputation, damage his ability to earn income, damage his ability to worship as he sees fit and to ridicule and hold him in contempt.
The suit calls for restitution to his damaged reputation, emotional distress and mental anguish, as well as pain and suffering and loss of earning and ability to earn income in the future. Pollock is also seeking punitive damages from the diocese, Waldo, the senior warden and diocesan chancellor. Pollock is seeking a jury trial
WALDO'S SECOND LAWSUIT
This is not the first time Bishop Andrew Waldo has been sued for libel and slander. Waldo quite unceremoniously fired the Dean of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Columbia, SC, Philip C. Linder and then publically badmouthed Ellen, his wife. The insurance company representing Trinity Episcopal Cathedral paid $75,000 to the wife of the former Dean to settle a civil lawsuit related to his ouster from the cathedral's top post in July 2010.
Ellen Linder then filed suit in Richland County in October 2011 against the cathedral and Bishop W. Andrew Waldo of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina, claiming the church and bishop had inflicted emotional distress and defamed her during the Linders' painful and public departure from the church.
In a letter to parishioners dated Dec. 11, senior warden Mark James said the decision was made by the Church Insurance Group, the cathedral's carrier, to reach the out-of-court settlement against the advice of the cathedral and Waldo. The settlement was "ultimately the insurance company's decision, since it shoulders the entire cost of defending the case and the risk of loss."
Pollock told VOL that it appears that in the four years Waldo has been the Bishop of Upper South Carolina, he has had a proclivity to attract the significant ire of people and clergy in the diocese.
"Word has it that two clergy in the upper part of South Carolina have filed suit against him."
In response to a request from VOL to Bishop Waldo seeking a comment on the claims, Kirby Shealy, the vice-chancellor of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina, wrote, "Other than telling you that we believe that the lawsuit has no merit whatsoever, it would be inappropriate to comment upon pending litigation."
BISHOP WALDO AND BISHOP MARK LAWRENCE
Waldo had also offered his support to national church loyalists in the Diocese of South Carolina in their battle with Bishop Mark Lawrence.
In his Dec. 2 2012 Advent letter to the church, Waldo did not offer ecclesiastical oversight to the dozen or so South Carolina congregations that did not back the Nov. 17 2012 vote for secession, his offer of pastoral support attempted to lay out an option for their absorption into his diocese. That has not happened.
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