Twice Is a Charm? Wall St. Journal Again Profiles Stunning Case of Wrongfully Convicted Priest Fr. Gordon MacRae

Harvey Silverglate : WSJ : Rev. Gordon MacRae

In the WSJ, famed civil rights attorney Harvey Silverglate (l) takes up the case of
wrongfully accused Rev. Gordon MacRae (r, pictured from prison in 2011)

For the second time this past decade – and at least the fourth time since 2005 – the Wall Street Journal has taken up the case of Fr. Gordon J. MacRae, who has, quite unbelievably, been serving a 33½-to-67 year sentence in a New Hampshire state prison since 1994 on abuse charges.

In a recent article in the WSJ, famed Boston-based civil liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate argues that new revelations that a New Hampshire detective may have fabricated evidence against Fr. MacRae is even more compelling evidence that MacRae needs to be vindicated. (The WSJ is by paid subscription, but the paper generously allowed Fr. MacRae to republish the article at his site

New evidence – of possible prosecutorial fraud

Det. James McLaughlin : New Hampshire

Crooked New Hampshire
Detective James McLaughlin

As Silverglate reports, earlier this year a bombshell dropped in New Hampshire when the state Attorney General released the "Laurie List," a catalog of law enforcement officers who had committed misconduct violations undermining their credibility. Conspicuously on that list was Detective James McLaughlin, the driving force behind the entire prosecution of MacRae. It turns out that McLaughlin was placed on the list (pdf) for a violation of "Falsification of Records" in an unrelated case in 1985, nine years before MacRae went to trial.

This revelation was monumental because MacRae has not only vehemently argued that McLaughlin paid off his accusers to manufacture a case against him but that recordings by McLaughlin of the priest purporting to prove MacRae's guilt were bogus. Indeed, when MacRae demanded that these recordings be turned over for his trial, McLaughlin was suddenly unable to produce them, claiming that they were taped over and that transcripts of the recordings were not made due to an alleged "clerical error." Hmmm.

Silverglate argues that this new revelation about McLaughlin's past misconduct raises serious questions about MacRae's conviction, just as the investigative reporting of the case by the WSJ's Dorothy Rabinowitz did way back in 2013.

A case crying to the Heavens for justice

In 1994, Fr. MacRae was convicted and imprisoned based on the claims of a single accuser named Thomas Grover, who testified that Fr. MacRae sexually assaulted him over five consecutive weekly counseling sessions years earlier in 1983 when he was 15 years old. (Asked why he would repeatedly return to a place where he had been brutally attacked the week before, Grover incredibly testified that he "had experienced 'out of body' episodes that had blocked his recollection" of previous abuse. Uh-huh.)

And since MacRae's conviction, many more troubling details have come to light:

  • There are multiple, independent attestations that Grover said privately that he was never even assaulted by MacRae and that he accused the priest in order to sue the Church for money.
  • There are multiple, independent sources who say that they were coerced by McLaughlin into falsely implicating MacRae of abuse.
  • In a signed statement, a courtroom witness from the trial stated that a therapist hired by Grover's contingency lawyer used hand signals from the back of the courtroom during the trial in order to coach Grover on the witness stand.
  • A veteran FBI agent conducted a three-year investigation into the whole matter and concluded, "I discovered no evidence of MacRae having committed the crimes charged, or any other crimes."

Judge Arthur D. Brennan : New Hampshire

Retired New Hampshire
Judge Arthur D. Brennan

And if all that were not enough, the New Hampshire judge who presided at MacRae's trial, Arthur D. Brennan, was clearly biased against MacRae. At MacRae's sentencing, Brennan pointed to "aggressive denials of wrongdoing [and that] the evidence of child pornography is clear and compelling." Except that even the corrupt Detective McLaughlin later admitted to the WSJ's Rabinowitz in 2005, "There was never any evidence of pornography." Oh. (After Judge Brennan retired and started collecting his pension, he later made the news for getting arrested in Washington D.C. as part of the loopy, left-wing "Occupy" movement.)

Speaking truth to power

It goes without saying that the case of Fr. MacRae is an outrage. The mountain of evidence demanding MacRae's vindication is staggering. MacRae's courage in the face of this injustice these many years is heroic.

Please offer your support and your prayers, and visit his web site at



*EXCLUSIVE REPORT* Alarming New Evidence May Exonerate Imprisoned Priest (, Feb. 2012)

"Origins of the Case" (, pdf)

Catholic Priests Falsely Accused: The Facts, The Fraud, The Stories (Book by's David F. Pierre, Jr., 2011, which includes an entire chapter dedicated to the case of Fr. MacRae)


  1. Sheila Goodwin says:

    I have been following the facts about the trial of Rev. Macrae and I am appalled at this wrongful conviction! This case must be reopened. There is too much conflicting information and untruths for the world to ignore. Please continue to shine light on this corrupt trial. Justice must be served, Rev. Macrae must be exonerated.


  2. Dear Father, 

    I am praying for your vindication and God's highest and all holy justice will be served.





    Dear Father MacRae,



  3. Gail Ramplen says:

    "It goes without saying that the case of Fr. MacRae is an outrage. The mountain of evidence demanding MacRae's vindication is staggering. MacRae's courage in the face of this injustice these many years is heroic." I absolutely agree. Free Fr Gordon NOW and pay reparations.

  4. blah says:

    Well written.

  5. Joyce Seifried says:

    Much evidence of his innocence but when will something be done to wright this wrong.  Where has his bishop been and how will he get back the years he has served not to mention his reputation. No justice here. 

  6. janet schredl says:

    How can justice in America keep any sense of integrity when it represses and hides evidence of corrupt lawyers and judges whose god is the dollar? The evidence is available and mountainous!  Release Fr. MacRae!

  7. Barbara Maclellan says:

    These lawyers and judges must have no conscience.. Where are the Bishops? We are begging for justice for an innocent man.

  8. Robert Leach says:

    Dear Father Macrae. I am convinced of your innocence and will keep you in my prayers. The fact that you could have received a much lighter sentence if you had pleaded guilty speaks volumes for your nobility of character and your integrity. May God shower blessings upon you. 




  9. LindaEaton says:

    I too have been dealing with injustice for about the same length of time with what I refer to as RMs. No lawyer in the land can help bc they, the lawyers would have a conflict of interest and I'm not capable on my own to take them to court. No recourse to justice and I'm not alone. It's a growing issue which leaves many desperate for hope.