Sunday, August 28, 2011
Father Gordon MacRae - Balancing the Scales of Justice
"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 report....at 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?"