Sunday, August 28, 2011

Father Gordon MacRae - Balancing the Scales of Justice

Last week I published my first post regarding the bizarre case of Gordon MacRae and in this second post I continue to express my concern over the very high possibility that an innocent man is spending his life in prison for a crime he did not commit.

"You can't possibly know for certain that he is innocent."

No, I can't. No one can give 100% guarantee of a man's innocence or guilt when there is absolutely no physical evidence in a case. None. No DNA, no videos, no tangible evidence of any kind.  I don't consider  snapshots (taken by the pd)  of the inside of a rectory physical evidence. This simply tells me that a rectory exists. Many of us can describe the inside of a rectory, myself included...all three floors of one in fact. Does this mean I've been abused there? Of course not. It simply says that I've been in one. So has my little girl for that matter. What the lack of evidence DOES tell me is that the odds of a man possibly being innocent of the charges against him begin to rise at this point. Doesn't mean he is innocent but there's already something pointing to this possibility.

"Okay, but the police did a thorough investigation you know."

 Yes, indeed they (excuse me, he) did. In fact, I've never seen anything quite like it. Zealous, fanatical, AND thoroughly misleading. It seemed as if the police officer in charge made sure that every teenager who had ever met Fr. MacRae at some point was asked their opinion on his sexual orientation. He also asked a number of teenagers over and over again in various ways if they were SURE that they didn't have any sexual incidents to report and even after being assured was unconvinced by these assurances and suggested they think about it for a time.

 God forbid a priest hug a troubled teen. Trust me, they don't these days. They are afraid to even touch their arms on accident. Don't believe me? Ask a priest.

So, yes, I'd have to agree that it was thorough. At one point the officer even tried to connect Fr. MacRae to a crime that took place in Florida and despite clear evidence that this never happened (which I found in an AG document) this wasn't pointed out in the police least not in the one that I found.

You can damn a man by the evidence you leave out you know. At least in the eyes of the public. Which then brings us to another point: trial by media. Let's face it, many a man or woman has been found guilty in the "court of public opinion" based on biased and misleading journalism. All the sordid details of an accusation are quick to come out but you never get to hear any kind of a rebuttal from the accused party. It just doesn't work this way. Therefore, the public only gets to hear one side of the story and in the case of Fr. MacRae this is exactly what happened in newspapers all over the state. I should know, I've read them. Living here in N.H. this information is easy for me to find as I know the names of most of the "major" N.H. and Massachusetts papers. People in both states were still reeling over 2 previous cases of sexual abuse by  members of the clergy in  Massachusetts so you can imagine the climate here when Fr. MacRae's case became known. A fair and impartial jury is not easy to find under these circumstances. I have heard people claim that because Fr. MacRae's trial was one of the first in N.H. that bias was not the issue in his case but let me assure you that this is not true. Most of the news in N.H. comes from the much larger Massachusetts TV stations and newspapers.

"Surely the judge wouldn't have sentenced him to spend thirty-three and a half to sixty-seven years in prison if the man wasn't guilty! No one would do that."

 The judge sentenced him to such a lengthy term because Fr. MacRae showed no remorse. Well, to be honest, I wouldn't have shown any remorse either. Why would someone show remorse for a crime they didn't commit?

"The state must have been convinced that the evidence was very strong or they wouldn't have proceeded with it."

Actually, no... obviously they were not convinced because they offered a plea bargain of one to three years if Fr. MacRae would plead guilty. If you truly believe someone is preying on children and that your case is solid you would go all out. But no, this is not the case, Fr. MacRae was offered plea deals a number of times. Which begs the question:

If you were guilty of a crime wouldn't you accept a plea deal?

If you were not guilty wouldn't you refuse it?

I hope that each of you will take the time to read the links below:
- Truth in Justice (A note here - I have seen Fr. Scruton a few times many years ago. He is a real person and the parishes mentioned in this story are real. The only one I haven't been to is the one in Keene.)
- Should the Case against Father Gordon MacRae be Reviewed? ( A must read - one of the accusers recants his story and sheds new light on the case.)

My hope is that by reading this post (and others) people will dig a bit deeper into the case of Fr. MacRae. I'm writing it because there is a prison thirty minutes away that likely holds an innocent man within its cells and my conscience will not allow me to ignore this any longer.

"What about those of us who already believe this man is innocent?"

That's easy to answer. Make a stink. A big one. The more people who read the other side of the story the better. Write letters, write articles, blog about it. Keeping quiet is not an option if you believe someone may be falsely imprisoned. Every Christian knows the high cost of silence.

And most of all....pray.


  1. I am happy to see that you have shared information about Fr. Gordon MacRae. His is indeed an egregious case -- and he is a wonderful man. He has been very gracious and generous in advice to our parish in helping to support our priest, who has been accused of a similar thing by someone the diocese has already determined is lying but must wait months more for the civil case to conclude because the person (an adult) wants money and revenge. Although there is a tendency to believe that the priest must be guilty, people need to remember that in America guilt must be proved, not assumed. In California, according to the most recent research, 50% of all allegations have been determined to be false. That is pretty frightening. (BTW, EWTN aired an interview with Bill Donohue, Catholic Civil League, in which he mentioned Fr. Gordon MacRae's dilemma.) Yes, more people need to speak up and help him.

  2. This is so sad, Mary. We're praying the novena with you, this week. God bless, Vicky.

  3. The miscarriages of justice are commonplace in the world.

    What follows are a few disjointed comments, no logical argument here.

    First: When in university, I took Abnormal Psych, the professor said, the difference between a sane person and one suffering from paranoid schozophrenia, is that with the sane person the monsters really are tryingt to get you.

    Second: Miscarriages of justice happen so often it gives these people a job.

    The most terrifying case for me, in Canada, of justice going horribly wrong, is one in which a Canadian Judge sentenced a <a href=">14 year old to hang</a>

  4. Elizabeth,
    It's good to hear that your diocese is supporting your priest - ours throws them to the wolves in most cases. I have known a number of accused priests and the diocese didn't support any of them to my knowledge. When it comes to priests it seems that presumption of innocence is thrown out the door.
    I saw the interview with Bill Donohue and was glad he spoke up about SNAP and accused priests, including Fr. MacRae's case. I will keep your priest in my prayers.

  5. Vicky,
    Thank you for joining us in our prayers for Fr. MacRae. There are a lot of facts in this case that were kept from both the public and the jury. Things are not always as they seem. Certain organizations have filled the internet with false information about Fr. MacRae so I'm glad Bill Donahue has pointed people toward "These Stone Walls" and has spoken up in regard to the issue of falsely accused priests.
    I highly recommend visiting his site (which is in my sidebar). Thanks for commenting, Vicky. It's nice to know that someone who lives so far from the U.S. cares that a priest is falsely imprisoned here. Sometimes I think that if Fr. MacRae wasn't imprisoned in a tiny state with such a small population his plight would have garnered far more attention by now.

  6. Mary,
    Great follow up to your first post. What really gets me about Fr. Gordon's case and others like it, is that if this case were being carried out and conducted according to the letter and spirit of our laws, any investigator, police officer, judge or lawyer would have it thrown out due to lack of hard physical evidence. We do not(or at least we are not suppose to) convict people based on circumstantial, let alone, made up evidence and hearsay.
    I also agree with you about those of us who believe in his innocence to be more vocal about it. Even if it is just blogging about his Wednesday post at TSW.
    Thanks for being one who has taken the lead in speaking out against this injustice, not just against Fr. Gordon but against the priesthood itself.

  7. Puff,
    Thank you for commenting on this post. I'll check out the links you mention in your comment and get back to you about them.

    Your comment to Bear is STILL making me smile.

  8. Karin,
    It was Esther and yourself who first drew my attention to this case. Like many people I "resisted" looking into the case at first because of the subject matter but began to realize that I was driven by emotion and not truth when it came to Fr. MacRae's case. Once I was able to see past my emotional response it was much easier to look at this case with a clear eye. Thanks for helping to remove the scales from my eyes regarding Fr. MacRae. You are correct in saying that a great miscarriage of justice occurred in Fr. MacRae's case and that his rights were violated. I've never heard of anyone ever being convicted on such weak evidence before. It boggles my mind.

  9. Mary, I along with Esther may have gotten your attention in Fr. Gordon's case, but your posts have lit the fire in me to continue writing about it (I posted on it again today). I am also planning to write more not only about Fr. G. but also about the attack on the priesthood through these scandals.
    Thanks for getting my good catholic activism revving again :)

  10. As the author of two of the links mentioned in this post, I would like to comment further. The writer of this blog is onto something, and I for one commend her for a heart of justice that enables her to see the truth through some dense fog that has been thrown up in and around this troubling case. But it's even worse than the writer knows. The mother of this priest's accusers had a career as a child sex abuse investigator for New Hampshire's Child Protective Services. She had worked for years with the detective who choreographed this case. She had also testified many times as a State's witness in child sex abuse cases that came before Father MacRae's judge. By the time she appeared as the aggrieved mother of three men who stood to gain in excess of $650,000 in this case, she was already well-known to the judge. From day one in this trial the judge referred to the priest as "the defendant" and the accuser as "the victim." But there is a lot more. The accusers' mother and the police detective both had awareness of other cases involving other accused priests that had never gone to trial and had been quietly settled. So they lifted elements of those other cases and injected them into the case against Father Gordon MacRae. This had the Kafkaesque effect of causing Father MacRae's Diocese to distance itself from him from day one. Before trial, the Diocese tried to control this information by declaring MacRae guilty before he ever set foot in a courtroom. The levels of betrayal go on and on, but what was betrayed more than anything is the "justice" that we all presume takes place in a modern American court of law.

  11. Karin,
    That's a great idea. After watching the EWTN interview with Bill Donahue I'm wondering how many others have been falsely accused. Abusing children is very serious and, yes, there are a number of people guilty of this horrendous crime that deserve to be in prison but it seems to me that the case of Fr. MacRae should be reviewed. With all the information that has come out about his case over the years I can't figure out why it hasn't been. It doesn't make sense.

  12. Ryan,
    Thank you for adding this information to my post. I know you have been studying the case in depth and I have been reading your articles about it and am amazed at what you have discovered. I hope everyone takes the time to read your articles because people should hear about these significant details of the case that should never have been hidden from the public in the first place.

  13. I think the first time I read about this awhile back on one of the blogs I follow. It sickens me to think of the injustice Father Gordon is going through. Thank you for this reminder to keep him and all of our priests in prayer.

    I will pray and spread the word.

  14. Mary,
    I just read your last comment on my post. Thought I'd see if I could reply on yours. Getting the feeling the enemy does not want us bringing up the topic of Fr. MacRae or others like it.

  15. Thanks DG. All of our priests need prayer support. Karinann has an interesting post on her blog today about this subject -

  16. Karin,
    Yes, the same thing crossed my mind when I received the e-mail today and when I remembered the trouble I had commenting on your post. I tried a number of times you know but couldn't get it up until today.

  17. Amen to what Karinann wrote, you really made me re-read many of the articles, especially the new info you graciously provided. Mahalo for these recent posts.

    As for the enemy, that too happened to me maybe once that I can remember. I wrote a few comments on Father's blog and they just wouldn't go through. And, that had never happened to me before.

  18. Esther,
    As you've probably noticed the police report started out in a fairly normal manner but the deeper someone reads into it the more red flags and questions are raised concerning the case.
    Even the Bishop's statement (from the newspaper article I sent) expressed concern over both the truthfulness of the accusations and the length of the prison sentence. But, a statement like this came way too late anyway. He needed the public backing of the diocese right from the beginning (but I guess this is another story altogether).