Special Report: New Appeal Filed in the Case of Fr. Gordon MacRae

religion | Feb 22, 2012 | By Ryan A. MacDonald

The Media Report and the National Center for Reason and Justice have announced a Motion for a New Trial based on new evidence in the case of wrongly imprisoned priest, Fr. Gordon MacRae

David F. Pierre, Jr., author of Catholic Priests Falsely Accused and host of The Media Report has published a compelling new “Exclusive Report” about the case of wrongly imprisoned Catholic priest, Father Gordon J. MacRae. Following a lengthy investigation, attorneys for Father MacRae have filed a Motion for New Trial in the New Hampshire Courts. The Boston-based National Center for Reason and Justice announced the new appeal last week, and posted it on the NCRJ website. The published brief presents a detailed description of newly discovered evidence in the case as well as other legal considerations.
This long sought development is both hopeful and encouraging for those who have seen the injustices at the heart of the case of Father Gordon MacRae who has long maintained his innocence. 

On October 13, 2005, Catholic League President Bill Donohue appeared on NBC’s “Today” show to square off against a panel of contingency lawyers promoting lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by priests.  In the heated debate, the lawyers and litigants painted the Catholic Church and priests with a broad brush as evil, lecherous offenders.  But Bill Donohue had the last word, and it was the most memorable sound bite of the day:

 “There is no segment of the American population with less civil liberties protection than the average American Catholic priest.”

Bill Donohue was referring specifically to the case of Rev. Gordon MacRae, a priest of the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire, who by that point had spent eleven years in prison for crimes that a growing number of people believe never occurred at all.

What caught Bill Donohue’s attention was “A Priest’s Story,” (April 27/28, 2005) a two-part series on the MacRae case by Dorothy Rabinowitz, a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist on The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board.

Father Gordon MacRae is 58 years old.  A few months ago, he marked 17 years of a life sentence in prison, but if he had accepted any of the “plea deals” offered to him before his 1994 trial, he could have left prison after only one or two years.  This is what makes this case such  “a Kafkaesque tale,” as the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus described it. If guilty and willing to say so, Fr. MacRae could have left prison fifteen years ago. For insisting he is innocent, this priest could spend 67 years in prison for claims – prosecuted with no evidence or corroboration at all – alleged to have occurred almost 30 years ago. Now, according to the “Exclusive Report” at The Media Report, some family members of Father MacRae’s accusers have come forward with compelling new evidence that the accusers lied in the entirety of their claims for the hundreds of thousands of dollars they obtained in Church settlements. 

At a time when many Catholics reeled over the scandal in the Catholic Church, writers and investigators took a hard look at the facts of the case of Fr. Gordon MacRae – facts that the rest of the news media distorted or conveniently omitted. The “Exclusive Report” is a disturbing account of greed, false witness, and, as Father Neuhaus described it in First Things magazine (July, 2009) “a Church and a justice system that seem indifferent to justice.”

The “Exclusive Report” by David F. Pierre, Jr., reveals some remarkable evidence of fraud and larceny – and Church officials all to eager to accommodate both – but no evidence whatsoever that the claims against this priest might be true. In fact, a veteran FBI Special Agent who has been investigating this case for three years reveals in David Pierre’s report that no evidence exists that Father MacRae committed these crimes or any crimes.

In the meantime, this priest has been writing from the confines of his prison cell, and what he writes truly warrants the Church’s notice.  Sitting in his cell on an empty plastic bucket in front of an old Smith Corona typewriter, Father Gordon MacRae has produced some remarkable writing about the scandal of the last decade, about the Church in Western Culture, about fidelity, false witness, and prison itself.  His typed articles are mailed to a supporter in Indiana who scans and e-mails them to Australia from where they are posted on-line. 

It’s the most arduous cyber-process ever, but the amazing result is www.TheseStoneWalls.com, an eye-catching, conscience-grabbing blog that is both riveting and spiritually uplifting. This blog’s fidelity to the Church, and to the truth, has been deemed by many to be the finest example of priestly witness the last decade of scandal has produced.

The new evidence exposed by The National Center for Reason & Justice in the new appeal brief presents a compelling and troubling case that Father Gordon MacRae has wrongly spent the last seventeen years in prison for crimes that never took place at all.  It is time to face up to this truth, and the “Exclusive Report” by David F. Pierre, Jr., is a must-read for all people of conscience.

Ryan A. MacDonald is a Spero News columnist who blogs at A Ram in the Thicket. He has written extensively on the matter of due process for accused priests at Spero News, and many online Catholic venues.




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