Voris faces possible criminal charges; Uninsured Church Militant looks at liquidation

By Damien Fisher

Michael Voris, the disgraced founder of Church Militant, is broke, unemployed, and now facing a possible criminal investigation.

Voris appeared via video at a hearing in the United States District Court in Concord, New Hampshire on Friday as Judge Joseph LaPlante asked why attorney Richard Lehmann is quitting the defamation case brought by New Hampshire priest the Rev. Georges de Laire.

The answer, it seems, is that Church Militant wants to pursue unspecified criminal charges against Voris.

Voris appeared alone in his video feed and seemed to be streaming himself from his home. A dog could be seen in the background, at times licking itself.

Criminal charges for Voris?

Lehmann recently filed a motion to leave the case as the defense lawyer for Voris and Church Militant, citing an untenable conflict of interest that arose as Lehmann attempted to get the Catholic media non-profit to comply with a court order to stop  hiding evidence.

Howard Cooper, the attorney representing de Laire, told LaPlante that he was informed Lehmann is leaving due to the possibility of a criminal case involving the defendants.

“It’s my understanding there are calls from members of the board for Voris to be criminally prosecuted,” Cooper said.

Cooper wanted Mike Sherry, the current Church Media board president who also attended via video, to confirm a possible criminal investigation into the conflict forcing Lehmann out. The exact nature of that conflict was disclosed in a brief virtual in camera session between LaPlante, Lehmann, Voris, and Sherry, after which LaPlante agreed Lehman cannot stay on the case

“I am going to have to allow (Lehmann) to withdraw,” LaPlante said.

Lehmann is the third Church Militant lawyer to quit the case citing an untenable conflict of interest. The trial in de Laire’s defamation lawsuit is still scheduled for February, and neither Church Militant nor Voris have lawyers.

“I still need to find a lawyer,” Sherry said.

Sherry told LaPlante he would be contacting the Marc Randazza law firm for a recommendation on a new attorney. Randazza is the ethically challenged former gay porn industry lawyer who was barred by LaPlante from representing Voris and Church Militant. Court records cite pending ethics investigation against Randazza as justification.

Voris, broke, will represent himself

Voris, who now cannot rely on Church Militant to provide an attorney, told LaPlante he will likely represent himself at trial out of necessity since he cannot afford to hire counsel.

“Frankly I do not have the financial wherewithal to do that,” Voris said. “I do not have a job, I do not have any money to speak of, except some equity in my home. I would have to be my own counsel.”

LaPlante told Voris it is his right to act as his own attorney, though he strongly discouraged the former broadcaster from representing himself.

If there is good news for Church Militant, it is that de Laire is now offering a settlement agreement, after saying on the record for months he had no plans to deal. The terms of the settlement offer are not being made public, but it will likely be costly for the beleaguered media company.

Church Militant had no defamation liability insurance

Sherry said Church Militant has no insurance to cover damages, and no assets outside of the two commercial buildings that house the organization. Both buildings in Ferndale, Michigan are currently for sale.

At this point, Church Militant could possibly soon lose its home, its equipment, and all its money.

LaPlante pressed Sherry on whether Church Militant has anything of value that could go toward a settlement, or be forcibly turned over through damages. Sherry told LaPlante the equipment inside the building, mostly studio gear, is owned by Church Militant outright and is valued at about $1 million. LaPLante then asked about how much money Church Militant has in cash donation, the major source of revenue.

Sherry did not know the current figures for Church Militant, and LaPlante empathized with Sherry, saying donors didn’t give them money with the intent to pay for damages in a lawsuit, but implied that might be what happens after the buildings and the studio equipment are liquidated.

Church Militant assets for sale, but where will the money go? 

Cooper expressed concern about the impending sale of Church Militant’s buildings, and what might happen to the proceeds. Sherry did not agree to put the sale revenue into an escrow account pending the outcome of the case, as Cooper wants.

LaPlante is calling both sides back to court on Tuesday to give Sherry a chance to speak with a real estate advisor about the escrow proposal. In the meantime, LaPlante said no sale should happen until after the Tuesday conference.

“I don’t want to hear about anybody selling these properties between now and then,” LaPlante said.

If Sherry does not accept a voluntary escrow, Cooper is prepared to file a temporary restraining order against Church Militant and attach a lien on its property, essentially freezing any sales funds.

Still asking for donations

Last week, Sherry sent Church Militant subscribers an email begging for donations, saying its current crisis is the work of the Devil.

We would hate to lose this place to the Devil and allow him to undermine all our work. That is precisely what he wants,” Sherry wrote.

That email did not mention the lawsuit, and it did not mention that the board of a news media non-profit did not ensure it has insurance in place to cover a defamation liability.

Courtroom sketch of Friday’s hearing by Clara Fisher. Voris appears at right

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19 thoughts on “Voris faces possible criminal charges; Uninsured Church Militant looks at liquidation”

  1. This is crazy! I had no idea Voris was facing criminal charges. I always thought Church Militant was a legitimate outlet, not some fly-by-night operation. I hope they’re not going to fold, but if they are, I guess some folks will just have to find other sources of news and commentary that align with their values.

  2. What do they say? “Where there is smoke, there is fire.” But I’ll refrain from judging because a) That’s His job, not mine, and b) I don’t have all the facts in this case. But what I do know is that Michael and Christine had helped me raise awareness into the institutionalized, systematic and wholesale rape of our very precious children at the hands of the “Catholic Church,” which has been going on full steam since the synod of Elvira.

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

    And how you all jump to conclusions, fellow Christians, and cast down a judgement that does not belong to you? Shame on you. I’ll not make any judgements, and respect the consusion of the courts.

    Richard Windmann
    President, Survivors of Childhood Sex Abuse

  3. Yeah, well, not everyone who calls herself a “faithful Catholic” will enter into the kingdom of heaven. Right, Shoegirl? If I were you, I wouldn’t be too quick to count myself in, but hey, that’s just me.

  4. “Voris appeared alone in his video feed and seemed to be streaming himself from his home. A dog could be seen in the background, at times licking itself.”

    How does “at times licking itself” contribute to the story you are reporting? From here, it looks like tawdry self-amusement on your part, and damages nobody but you. You can be better than that.

    1. Apparently they replaced one of employee board members susan vance with Yahanseh George (YG) Nyghtstorm. He apparently owned a security firm, previously a preacher with baptists, switched to being Catholic and ran for US Rep. office and lost in 2022. He charges $2K to $5K per event, speech, TV appearances, etc. I wonder if he is legit or more like Joel Olsteen, etc. type, a motivational speaker? Will Voris be coming back into CM under this new board members approval? Kristine, anyone else, what do you think?

  5. CM and Voris can’t blame this one on Satan, the Freemasons, or anyone else. They have only themselves to blame for their foolishness and failure to get liability insurance.

  6. So much pure *joy* this brings to so many faithful Archdiocese of Detroit Catholics.

    It’s truly an answer to many years of prayer (and diligent work) to rid Church Militant from our archdiocese. Please continue your coverage.

    1. I can understand your delight, but I think you are overlooking how the archdiocese has treated sex abuse victims over the years. Truly horrifying … and the attack on Father Perrone … try justifying that one!

          1. Your commentary here does confirm you worked for Church Militant: suspicious and frankly rude to anyone you “meet” online. Please find another type of work.

            1. Well, “Shoegirl,” at least I post using my real name, and it does seem you have gotten a little “testy” when I call you out. So, thanks for the advice, but I think I just keep doing what I’m doing. Consider have the courage to “shoe” your identity when you post online.

              1. Sadly, your work with Church Militant is why many in Arch of Detroit remain anonymous when commenting about your heinous and misleading work. It keeps us safer and saner from your continued attacks.

                1. How sad you are, and you have appointed yourself a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Detroit which is in horribly bad shape. And, there is obviously a misunderstanding as to the work of Church Militant and its mission. I don’t believe for one minute that closing its doors is the answer to prayer as even Jesus would expose the evildoers. You have no right to judge those who worked for this apostolate and their vocation. There is nothing heinous or misleading about exposing moral corruption. The Bride of Christ deserves to be cleansed from the inside out and preserved according to God’s will, not yours. Like Jesus said, “Get behind me, Satan!” The Archdiocese of Detroit (under its archbishop) has NOTHING to boast about.

                2. Frankly, it’s easy to judge Church Militant and remain a faithful Catholic. And it will be easy to shut it down. Thanks be to God!

                3. Yeah, well, not everyone who calls herself a “faithful Catholic” will enter into the kingdom of heaven. Right, Shoegirl? If I were you, I wouldn’t be too quick to count myself in, but hey, that’s just me.

                4. Fascinating that I’m commenting about the take-down of a much-maligned and seriously troubled “Militant” website while you decide to continue to question my salvation. As if the two are even remotely related.

          2. So unless a person specifies that he or she is against the Diocese when it comes to abuses, you think it is charitable to simply presume that they are in favor of it?

            Maybe you should remember that in you next Confession.

            I also suggest that you read what some Catholic Saints (Like Benedict) have written when it comes to governing ones own tongue.

            Have a happy and Saintly Lent.

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