It's an incremental 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 St. George's ACNA 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.
The Colorado Springs Independent reports this morning:
Armstrong's camp released incorrect information, claiming that Armstrong had only pleaded "no-contest" to a misdemeanor that carried no possible jail time and minimal fines. The error was repeated as fact in other media outlets, alongside reports that the breakaway church Armstrong now leads, St. George's Anglican Church, was in good cheer.
Armstrong, accused of stealing $392,000 from Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church while serving as its priest, pleaded "no contest" to a third-degree felony theft charge with a deferred sentence. (If he violates his four years of probation, he could face massive fines and up to 12 years in prison.) He also pleaded de facto guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor theft charge that carries with it a possible six- to 18-month jail sentence and possible fines of $500 to $5,000. Both pleas allow Armstrong to maintain his innocence while admitting that the facts show he's guilty.
Additionally, and perhaps most pertinently, Armstrong still may be required to pay restitution, which could be — you guessed it — up to $392,000.
There has yet to be any public statement about the plea agreement by CANA's leader, Martyn Minns, or ACNA's leader Bob Duncan. Yet Armstrong's no contest plea to felony falls under ACNA disciplinary canons. Minns has previously maintained the grand jury charges were all about persecution of orthodoxy.
The now deleted parish statement ended,
With only a restitution hearing to be held in the distant future, this essentially concludes this long and expensive attempt to silence orthodox resistance to theological innovations in the Episcopal Church. We are thankful we can now move forward under our Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns, into a future productive for the Kingdom of God.