Calvary Chapel Visalia Pastor Bob Grenier Lawsuit Ruling

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* * * Be sure to read new update:  April 9 2013 below. * * *

Today was the ruling in the lawsuit between Calvary Chapel Visalia Bob Grenier and his wife Gayle Grenier vs Alex Grenier and Tim Taylor.  Today’s notice is a setback in the case.  I have spoken with Tim Taylor and he is waiting to hear more news from his attorneys about what comes next.  Alex has not returned my message.

Speaking out against abuse and injustice in the church is important, especially when those in positions of trust and leadership do not hold other leaders accountable.   There is a cost for speaking out publicly.   It affects one spiritually, emotionally, and of course the pocketbook.    I have the greatest respect for these men.  I know what they are going through.  My heart, thoughts, and prayers go to Alex and Tim and their families.  Please continue to pray for them.

This notice was posted publicly at the  Superior Court of California, County of Tulare website under Tentative Rulings:

Re:    Grenier v. Taylor

Case No.:   249252

Date:  April 9, 2013      Time: 8:30 A.M.

Dept. 7 – The Honorable Paul Vortmann

Motion:   Continued Hearing on Defendants’ Special Motion to Strike the Complaint as a Meritless SLAPP

Tentative Ruling:  To Deny Defendants’ Special Motion to Strike the Complaint as a Meritless SLAPP

All objections to evidence are overruled.

No further briefs in support of or in opposition to the motion have been filed.  From the documents previously filed, the court finds that Defendants’ published comments directed at Plaintiffs appear to have been based on personal animus and made with the intent to discredit and disgrace Plaintiff Bob Grenier with the stated goal that he be removed as pastor of Calvary Chapel Visalia.  Considering the competing declarations the court finds that Plaintiffs have met their burden to show that it is likely that they will prevail on the merits.

If no one requests oral argument, under Code of Civil Procedure section 1019.5(a) and California Rules of Court, rule 3.1312(a), no further written order is necessary. The minute order adopting this tentative ruling will become the order of the court and service by the clerk will constitute notice of the order.

More articles on Calvary Chapel lawsuit and personal stories can be found here.

47 comments on “Calvary Chapel Visalia Pastor Bob Grenier Lawsuit Ruling

  1. Am I understanding correctly?

    1) what the court is saying is that this case can’t be dismissed as a S.L.A.P.P.
    (Like yours was Julie Anne)

    2) this now moves to
    a) mediation
    b) trial

    Does this mean that there will have to be a change in lawyers as this moves toward trial?

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  2. I’m confused about this, BD, because in the earlier hearing, they said Bob was a limited purpose public figure, which is important to establish in an anti-SLAPP. Now it looks like they are saying the plaintiffs’ have met their burden of proof in: “published comments directed at Plaintiffs appear to have been based on personal animus and made with the intent to discredit and disgrace Plaintiff Bob Grenier with the stated goal that he be removed as pastor of Calvary Chapel Visalia.”

    I don’t understand why that rules out the anti-SLAPP. Call me confused.

    There is an oral argument tomorrow. I would suspect that if they don’t win that, Alex and Tim’s attorneys will likely appeal.

    In my case, my attorney warned me that many times the lower courts are not up on anti-SLAPP laws. In fact in my case, she literally taught the whole court the anti-SLAPP history and showed the court why my case would qualify. The higher-level courts seem to be more familiar with these laws.

    Bottom line is, if this case does not meet criteria for anti-SLAPP, it will go to court. This will likely be a lengthy process (which is what the anti-SLAPP tries to avoid). It’s not over yet. There is still hope. I am still very hopeful. One thing Alex has going for him is he is meticulous about keeping records and they have all kinds of witnesses. It’s very difficult to prove malice (intent of the heart). Probably the biggest hassle of all is the emotional tug-of-war. That part is a challenge.

    I have not heard anything mentioned of changing attorneys. I think it’s far too early for that.

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  3. the stated goal that he be removed as pastor of Calvary Chapel Visalia.

    Yes! Absolutely.

    And this is precisely why this is a first amendment separation of church and state issue. This is a church matter. A calling out of an alleged pedophile (and false pastor) that needs to step down from his pastorate. I back that call and the freedom to do so.

    Calvary Chapel Visalia it is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans. . . And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgement on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord (1 Cor 5:1-5).

    As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear (1 Tim 5:20).

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  4. There is another problem. The court, to allow the suit to go forward, should have ruled on whether the statements by the defendants were true or false. If true, then the anti-SLAPP should have been granted. The burden is on the plaintiffs to prove that the statements are, in fact, false by a preponderance of the evidence. That is the first requirement for any defamation suit.

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  5. monax – – – I just now thought of the same thing and then read your comment. This was Alex’s original intention all along – – – to let it go to court without anti-SLAPP – – – so that everything could be exposed. Maybe this is an answer to prayer.

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  6. It will be important to track how the lawyer for the defense responds – Paul Clifford is from the California Anti-SLAPP Project. This is their specialty and they don’t take every case that comes their way. Their website has a lot of informative background on different aspects of anti-SLAPP lawsuits. Still praying and trusting for a clear win for Alex and Tim …

    http://www.casp.net/

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  7. I know I was not alone in hoping this would end with the anti-SLAPP. Though discouraging I can not help but wonder if this is in some way BG just giving himself more rope with which to hang himself by this going to trial.

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  8. As this disappointing news was being posted, a new day had already descended on Europe, Tuesday, April 9, 2013. It was, and (as this is written) currently is, the 68th anniversary of the martyrdom of Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer, who chose to return from America to Germany during World War II to confront the monstrosity of a political ideology and system that, as it were, shook its collective fist in the face of God and Man. Bonhoeffer, who actively promoted life together in true Christian community, in utter defiance of a corrupt and captured official “church” and “church” culture. Bonhoeffer, the enemy and would be assassin of the now-not-so-current era’s most notorious of the oppressors of God’s people–yes, I include our Jewish brothers and sisters in the category of God’s people. Bonhoeffer, who recognized and embraced and fell victim to the certainty of the retaliation of the enemies of all that is of God. Bonhoeffer, whose letters from prison in a very real way now join those of the Apostle Paul.

    May we all find inspiration and encouragement in the life and example of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Inspiration and encouragement to confront and continue to confront injustice and oppression; inspiration and encouragement to continue, knowing that the battle to overcome the oppression of the broken, the powerless, the defenseless, the rejected, the lied to, the manipulated, the weak and the despairing, will be fought at great cost–and that it will be won through many setbacks.

    May we find inspiration and encouragement in the fact that Bonhoeffer’s life and works live on, redounding to the benefit of mankind to this day. Our God is with us. His enemies have already been defeated. Yet, may we remember, and find strength, to pray for His enemies and ours, recalling that while we were yet sinners, He died for us.

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  9. Julie Anne, thanks for covering this. I hope that if this forces them to go to trial, that it will all come out and be in public record for one and all to see.

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  10. I am grateful that BG’s objections to evidence were over-ruled. That alone might be enough for him to reconsider proceeding. Could he really want even more publicity and light shown on his actions and character??

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  11. Anne – – Another blogger and I were talking about that very thing this morning. It doesn’t make logical sense to us that he would want the court to reveal so much of his actions/character, but remember the kind of person we are dealing with. If he is acting like a narcissist, he won’t care because narcissists are blind to their own sins. They are actually incapable of seeing their faults because they have no moral compass for themselves.

    I find it also interesting that my pastor was hoping for the same thing – a lengthy court hearing. Keep in mind that my pastor was not accused of sexual allegations by us (although now after the court case, he is claiming we did accuse him, but that is simply not true – long story – yada yada). Anyway, both pastors were/are so convinced they are right, they are willing to go the extra mile with depositions, etc. It’s crazy. Well – – – I say, bring it on if it is going to shine the light on this abuse situation. This might be necessary and might prove to have a better outcome than any anti-SLAPP would have done. Remember, the Anti-SLAPP would only have determined whether Alex/Tim have legal right to post online the kinds of things they have posted. It does nothing with the sex abuse, etc.

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  12. Pingback: Spiritual Abuse – When God Doesn’t Make Sense and Lawsuit Update » Calvary Chapel Abuse | Calvary Chapel Abuse

  13. So, if I understand An Attorney right, and what I’ve read about California state’s anti-SLAPP laws, then Judge Vortmann should still be dealing with whether the allegations said and written by defendants Alex Grenier and Tim Taylor were truthful. [What I’ve learned is that defamation is a combination of tests: Whether the statements made were true. But if they were false, whether the person said/wrote them while knowing they were false, and if so, whether there was malice/reckless disregard involved in saying/writing them. Precise definitions and standards of proof may differ depending on what state you’re in, and whether the plaintiff is “a limited public figure” and things like that.]

    But the thing is … a full lawsuit may *seem* to be to the advantage of the plaintiffs in the Beaverton and Grenier cases, but discovery and depositions work both ways. And what An Attorney said above reminded me of the many highly specific allegations of wrongdoing against Bob Grenier that are both online from *multiple* former members of Calvary Chapel Visalia, and also in the defendants’ documents and supporting declarations. Because the allegations are so specific, that should make them provable issues of fact; either Bob Grenier did or did not do these things he is alleged to have done.

    So, if I’m remembering those documents and online statements rightly — and we can check this in the Grenier Defamation Lawsuit Archives — discovery/depositions could open up Bob Grenier’s personal and family finance records, Calvary Chapel Visalia’s corporate finance records including the petty cash funds records and receipts, investigation into his son Paul’s declaration with allegations about Bob sexually abusing him as a child, etc.

    http://calvarychapelabuse.com/wordpress/?page_id=1685

    AND, who knows, that process maybe could also require sworn statements from other Calvary Chapel elders, leaders, etc., whose testimonies would directly relate to the series of allegations about Bob Grenier’s actions.

    Regardless, I have to believe that the lawsuit may bring more aspects of the Calvary Chapel system into the light … and even if that church doesn’t address the issues, at least The Church may.

    Alex and Tim, a lot of people have stood with you and we’ll continue no matter what … praying you are encouraged …

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  14. I spoke with Tim today. His attorneys presented several Supreme Court cases to the judge with the intent of showing how those cases ruled on “malice.” The judge will be reading these cases over the next couple of days before issuing a ruling. So . . . more waiting. He said that Pastor Bob Grenier came to the courthouse with a big Bible – the size of a notebook – had one hand positioned on the bottom of the Bible, the other hand on top of the Bible. He held the Bible in this way the whole time from what Tim could see. There were not as many of Bob’s entourage as last time, but there was a bailiff who positioned himself between Bob and Tim at one point.

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  15. He said that Pastor Bob Grenier came to the courthouse with a big Bible – the size of a notebook – had one hand positioned on the bottom of the Bible, the other hand on top of the Bible. He held the Bible in this way the whole time from what Tim could see.

    As in holding it up to the Judge so the Judge could see how Godly he was?

    There were not as many of Bob’s entourage as last time, but there was a bailiff who positioned himself between Bob and Tim at one point.

    Was the bailiff a CCV member?

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  16. What the wicked dreads will come upon him,
    but the desire of the righteous will be granted.
    When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more,
    but the righteous is established forever.

    For the LORD loves and guards the paths of justice. He preserves the way of His godly ones.

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  17. Julie Anne I am sorry if my comment on the CCA blog regarding what Alex did to try and help Greg was harsh in any way. Alex if you read these comments please accept my apology for any harshness. I was being honest and in a sense I wanted to try to snap you out of some of the questioning of who God is and encourage you to continue to have faith and not to count CC leadership’s actions as His actions. I can see from past CCA comments that you originally were motivated by strength of conviction. Please don’t lose that. This current tentative ruling came as a surprise to me considering the original ruling. I am praying although I do not yet fully understand if this completely overturns the Anti-Slapp motion. Does it?

    I truly believe that there is strength in maintaining the truth that CC has shown itself to be the type of organization that produces abusers, particualrly since as a whole their actions seem to declare that they do not believe that they have any issues at all. I believe that there is also strength in being very careful who we allow to have authority over us and in remembering that God shows no partiality to the wicked. This truth may only become evident in eternity but I believe that we still have to keep holding on to the truth of who God is in the midst of it all. Be encouraged Julie Anne and Alex and thank you very, very very much for all that you have done to uphold the cause of truth and justice for so many people!

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  18. OC – Thanks so much for your comments – I read this one and the one at CCA. You have a tender heart. Alex and Tim are very dear to me. I feel such a connection with them because of my case and especially with Alex because of our similar abusive backgrounds.

    This case has huge significance for CC, for other churches, and for First Amendment rights. It baffles me that the media isn’t giving it much attention. The judge is spending time looking over some Supreme Court cases with malice before he makes his ruling. If he still rules in Bob’s favor, Alex and Tim’s attorneys will most likely appeal. If that happens, it extends this case approximately 1-2 years.

    I haven’t been too worried about the lawsuit from the beginning because it is so poorly written. The lower court may not get it right (regarding the anti-SLAPP), but most likely the higher level court will. This is exactly what my attorney told me.

    One of the most devastating things for me to see was the fact that so many people were having difficulty with their faith, questioning their faith, abandoning their faith after leaving my former church. This was why I posted my first negative Google review. Something had to be done to warn people. I had never seen such spiritual destruction in my life. Spiritual abuse messes with your head. I hate it. I hate it with a passion. I will continue to speak out and to pray for those who are left so confused. I have cried many tears over this. It breaks my heart and I’m sure God’s as well. Thank you for joining the battle in prayer and support. It means so much.

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  19. Those of us who have experienced the abuse take this warning to heart and spirit; it’s well past time that those who have been blind to the abuse open their eyes and consider the warning as well!

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  20. We have to be careful not to idolize organizations as well.

    One of the things I have learned in my walk, is that once we start to idolize places & brands (corporate churches, logos, names, pastors, etc.) all manner of sin flourishes.

    The ‘expectation of righteousness’ that can be placed on these things, forces sin to hide & corruption to grow to ‘preserve the appearance of righteousness’. This has ‘good intentions’ but is also very evil. Satan loves the elevation/adoration of anything that isn’t Jesus.

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  21. Crowned1 – Welcome! Your comment is right on – – there does seem to be a lot of puffing up of names/churches and that is a distraction from God. Thank you!

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  22. I wonder if the Bible bob was holding is the same one he slammed shut when I was in his office, him yelling at me. He criticized the Bible I was holding (I had purchased it at the CCV bookstore) because it was a John Mac Arthur version. I had tons of sticky notes ready to read scripture for a discussion on some questions I had about his Easter sermon. I was shocked when he would not allow me to read scriptures and he slammed his Bible shut and proceeded to ream me for 45 minutes. All this to say, I was able to see the side of bob he keeps hidden from the public. I am glad to be free from the clutches and control of these people and don’t need to be told what to think, where to serve, and where to give by any man. Grateful that God rescued me from this evil cult! A person should be able to ask a Bible question of a pastor without him losing his temper.

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  23. Your Mom: Thanks for your comment and welcome! Your comment reminded me of a cartoon by David Hayward I saw earlier this morning. He understands spiritual abuse and the specific issue of asking questions being viewed as a threat by high-controlling pastors

    I am not surprised to read your account of BG as I have read many, many similar accounts on the CCA blog and e-mails people have sent me that are not publicized. I have no doubt that they are true. I am glad that you are free, too! Praise God for that.

    A side note – I am a little stunned to know that they would offer John MacArthur’s bible at the CCV bookstore since JMac is clearly Calvinist. I wonder if Chuck Smith knows they sell MacArthur bibles at a Calvary Chapel church. I don’t think that would go over too well with him. I’ve heard reports that he got rid of a pastor for holding to Calvinist doctrine.

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  24. @Julie Anne,
    That happened 8 years ago. bob refers to his Calvinism days in his very poorly written book as his experience with Systematic Theology, can’t remember his exact words. Someone here must have that creepy book. He changed the name of CCV to Emmanuel Christian Fellowship. He invited MacArthur to speak at CCV but an accident or illness prevented JM from coming. The name change to Emmanuel Christian Fellowship and then back to Calvary Chapel Visalia was never explained to the congregation. How dumb are we?

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  25. Jim Eliff, a renowned Calvinist, preached several times at Calvary Chapel Visalia. I am not a Calvinist but have friends and family that I dearly love and fellowship with who are. I like John MacArthur but do disagree with him on several points. He is a man of integrity and has some excellent teachings on bad leaders and what disqualifies a man from being a pastor/elder. I guess Calvary Chapel would not agree with those teachings! They love to restore leaders who have fallen from grace.

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  26. Your Mom – is the Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem? I am familiar with that one. We own it. The CCV name change thing is bizarre. It reminds me of Sovereign Grace MInistries which made a transition to Calvinism mid-stream without formally telling people. That is bizarre behavior for any pastor.

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  27. Yes! What Crowned1 said. .

    and

    Isn’t this most telling what Your Mom wrote: Grateful that God rescued me from this evil cult! A person should be able to ask a Bible question of a pastor without him losing his temper. !?!?!?!?!

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  28. The creepy book I was referring to was A Common Miracle by bob g. bob used the term systematic theology in his book A Common Miracle to refer to the time when he was influenced by Calvinism. He was always careful to say to the congregation that he was not teaching Calvinism, he was just teaching what the Bible says. The congregation just followed whatever bob said the Bible said, even if he was teaching Calvinism. I went along with him for 20 years, back and forth, blowing with every wind of doctrine bob taught. I don’t think bob would ever admit to teaching Calvinism, even though he did!

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  29. I believe that is why bob got so angry with me in his office when he slammed his Bible shut. This guy has been so back and forth. I asked him if what he was teaching (that specific sermon) was what Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel believes and teaches. Instead of answering my question, he lost it. He accused me of taking his statement out of context and not listening to his whole message. I told him I listened to the message 3 times and showed him my 4 pages of notes. I asked him a simple question in a very respectful letter and he insisted that I meet with him in his office. I told him I did not need to come to his office and that we could discuss the question after church in the foyer. He had his secretary call me and set up an appointment. Trust me, I did not want to go into his office because I had heard stories of others that were called into the office. Again, I could not have been more respectful to him and he lost his temper within 5 minutes of our meeting and I had to endure 45 minutes of him telling me I was “combative”.

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  30. You Mom, It is my opinion that he enjoys picking on women. I think it makes him feel powerful. He apparently likes to humiliate them in front of their husbands to. Shame on him. Actually I believe it is a sign of insecurity, he was enraged that he was not intelligent enough to hold a simple conversation with you, in my opinion.

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  31. He was probably thinking, “Oh shoot, look at those notes and sticky notes, I’m in trouble now!” 🙂

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  32. That’s interesting, Nyssa. Well, if you do, I know a great attorney who would most likely take your case since she’s already done most of the work. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind a little extra spending money (not from you having to pay her, but from you-know-who losing again). That’s a great post, by the way!

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  33. Thanks! 😀 Now if the super botnet attacks would stop, so my webhost will stop tinkering with my blog, so it stops going up and down. 😛

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  34. Where can I see/obtain a copy of the whole April 9th Ruling? I am getting confused by the partial postings of the ruling. I’d like to see it in its entirety but don’t seem to be able to find that. It’s important to me because of my own church issue upon which I would like to embark. Also, did the Falwell-Flint case not address this same question as to the ‘public figure’ or, was that something different?

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  35. I’ve seen that most of it posted on the Calvary Chapel Abuse site, Adie. There really is not much more to it than that. However, I do have a copy of it on file. Send me an e-mail at: spiritualsb@ gmail dot com and I can send it to you in its entirety.

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  36. Hi Julie Anne. I sent you an email as you suggested. I am not trying to be pushy, I just want you to know, in case you did not receive it.

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  37. I am so sick of the senior pastors of Calvary chapels. Thre is a senior pastor in aurora Colorado who is so full of himself. I don’t think anyone who was on staff ever left hs church left on good terms. If you ever challenge end him you were gone. He was the king and he loved saving all the servants worship him…and I believe he s pad very well….assistants maybe made 30,000. Maybe.

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  38. Is this entire matter being posted here in harmony with the Apostle Paul’s rather serious words about going to court against fellow believers? “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged?” (1 Cor. 6:7). What good is served by this threat? It has prompted me to pray for all involved…..but not sure that’s worth the spiritual defeat that may be reflected in it. (and I wonder who the victor is in such defeats?).

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