The National Center for Reason and Justice announces a new federal court appeal filed by Attorney Robert Rosenthal for wrongly convicted priest, Fr Gordon MacRae.
Editor’s Note: The following is a TSW guest post by Ryan A. MacDonald.
I am once again pleased to write about a major step in the effort to free Father Gordon MacRae, a priest of the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire now in his twentieth year of unjust imprisonment. In a memorable quote in “The Trials of Father MacRae” in The Wall Street Journal last May, Pulitzer-prize winning author and columnist, Dorothy Rabinowitz summed up an appeal to state courts to overturn the unjust 1994 sexual assault convictions of this falsely accused priest.
“Those aware of the facts of this case find it hard to imagine that any court today would ignore the perversion of justice it represents.”
That “perversion of justice” continued when New Hampshire state courts rejected this appeal without a hearing on its merits, its new evidence, or its documentation of gross ineffective assistance of counsel in the 1994 MacRae trial. In an upcoming guest post on These Stone Walls, I plan to write in more candid detail of that perversion of justice from documents I have recently obtained in this case.
But first, some hopeful news. The National Center for Reason and Justice, a Boston-based organization that reviews claims of wrongful conviction and now sponsors the appellate defense of Father Gordon MacRae, has announced a new federal court appeal. Attorney Robert Rosenthal, lead counsel for the defense, has written an extensive new habeas corpus petition filed in the United States District Court in Concord, New Hampshire seeking to overturn the conviction of Father MacRae. We urge readers to review this appeal brief published by the NCRJ and here at These Stone Walls.
It was the readers of These Stone Walls that made this step possible. In my last guest post here last October I wrote, “For Fr Gordon MacRae’s Appeal to Move Forward, Help is Needed.” Readers stepped up admirably to help meet expenses to ensure the continuation of this case.
But now we must ask your help in expanding this effort to raise funds and to promote justice. The drafting of this extensive new appeal and its hundreds of pages of exhibits has exhausted all available resources and left the defense of Father MacRae in debt for the first time since it began. At the conclusion of this post, I will list once again the ways readers can help. We are deeply grateful to those who already have.
It may also help a good deal if readers would circulate a link to this post by sharing it on your social media networks, among your contacts, and in comments on other blogs and websites. We need to generate awareness of this case and the importance of justice not only for one falsely accused priest, but for the priesthood itself. We must together promote the mandate of the global Catholic Church to be a mirror of justice. Just two days before writing this post, I read the following in a weekly Catholic newspaper by a prominent Catholic writer:
“I hate to say it, but there really is no way to defend any of these guilty priests or their enablers anymore. The priest sex abuse scandal has been responsible for so much of the brutal criticism and fracturing of the modern day Catholic Church. We have been shamed. We have been put in a very difficult position as lay Catholics where we face scorn and ridicule…”
Who could disagree? I can’t! However I also happen to know first-hand that many accused priests are not guilty. The scorn and ridicule we face as Catholics will only be magnified – in this life and in the next – if the justice we see meted out is not marked by mercy, and especially by truth.
And the truth is that the Church is not just an easy target for the slurs of detractors, but she is also an easy target for lawyers and false claimants looking to score a windfall. This aspect of the scandal is seriously neglected – even by the Catholic press – because organized victim groups stand ready to trumpet their cause and demean the Church whenever the legitimacy of a decades-old claim is questioned.
As a result, bishops have been bullied into silence and unquestioned settlements. They have also been bullied into discarding our priests, ignoring their due process rights under Church and civil law, and into casting adrift the accused without due process. Justice itself has been the most abused victim in this tragedy for the Church.
By once again exposing the truth of “The Trials of Father MacRae,” Dorothy Rabinowitz and The Wall Street Journal presented compelling reasons to revisit this case, not only for the integrity of the justice system, but for the integrity of the Church as a mirror or justice.
To paraphrase a well known Gospel parable, Father Gordon MacRae was beaten by robbers and left on the side of the road in our Church. No amount of Catholic shame over the sex abuse scandal can justify passing him by on that road, not by us, not by his bishop and diocese, and not by the global Church. We of good conscience, with truth and justice in our hearts, cannot allow the injustices visited upon this priest to stand.
Please read at least the Introduction to Attorney Robert Rosenthal’s new brief, and please share this post with others.
HOW TO HELP
As listed on the “Contact” page of These Stone Walls there are four ways you can be of help, and I urge you to spread word of this information by sharing this post with your social media and online contacts. Here’s how to help:
LEGAL DEFENSE FUND: A legal fund has been established to accept gifts applied directly to legal costs that are ongoing in this case. As we now begin the process of preparing appeals to the federal courts, available funds have been seriously depleted, and continuance of this effort depends on assistance. Checks in any amount to this fund should be made out to Fr. Gordon MacRae and mailed as follows:
Friends of Fr. Gordon MacRae
P. O. Box 863
Hampton, NH 03842-0863
TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS: The National Center for Reason & Justice (www.ncrj.org) has fully examined the case of Fr. Gordon MacRae. Its Board of Directors and wrongful conviction specialists voted unanimously to provide fiscal sponsorship of his ongoing legal defense. What this means is that this fine organization lends its name to this appeal for funds, and will accept tax deductible contributions earmarked for legal expenses in this appeal if they meet the criteria.
Please consult www.ncrj.org/donate/ for instructions on how to make a tax deductible donation earmarked for the Fr. Gordon MacRae case. If you wish to donate to the NCRJ, please indicate in the “memo” line on your check that you wish to apply the funds to the Fr. Gordon MacRae case. If you also wish to apply for a tax deduction, you should indicate so in a cover letter. That address is:
National Center for Reason & Justice
Re: Fr. Gordon MacRae Defense
P.O. Box 191101 Roxbury, MA 02119-1101
THE PAYPAL LINK available on the top right corner of These Stone Walls is active, and it provides an opportunity for online gifts in any amount. If you take advantage of the Pay Pal link, please include an e-mail instructing us on whether you prefer your gift to be used for legal expenses or the support of These Stone Walls.
A SUPPORT FUND is also established to accept assistance in support of These Stone Walls and the special circumstances in which Father MacRae must write and publish. This includes costs for domain and hosting fees, postage and typing supplies, and daily telephone costs from prison to edit and manage These Stone Walls and hear and respond to messages. Remember that as a prisoner, Father MacRae has no Internet access so all messages must be read to him by telephone. Checks to this support fund should be made out to Fr. Gordon MacRae and mailed as follows:
Fr. Gordon MacRae
P.O. Box 205 Wilmington, MA. 01887-0205
And remember, you can also help enormously by posting links to These Stone Walls on other blogs, social networks, and to your own contacts. This is most important. (See Social Media Buttons Below) And you can also pray, without doubt the most powerful intervention available to us.
Once again, please review Attorney Robert Rosenthal’s new federal appeal on behalf of Father Gordon MacRae. Let us hope together for justice.