Saturday, February 12, 2022

     NH Detective James McLaughlin on a List of Dishonest Police


For 28 years Fr. Gordon MacRae said that NH Detective James McLaughlin falsified police reports. It turns out that he has been on a secret list for doing just that.

Attorneys Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld have long asserted that police and prosecutor misconduct played a significant role in the spate of wrongful convictions that have badly stained our justice system.  It seems that not a week goes by without a media story about a man or woman exonerated and released after being wrongly imprisoned for years or decades.  At his acclaimed blog from prison, Father Gordon MacRae recently analyzed one such heart-wrenching account in "For the Lovely Bones Author Alice Sebold, Justice Hurts."

According to Scheck and Neufeld, "in 64-percent of exonerations analyzed by the Innocence Project, professional misconduct by police or prosecutors played an important role in convictions.  Lies, cheating, distortions at the lower levels of the system are excused at higher ones" (Actual Innocence, p. 225).  A focus on policing in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has made police misconduct a lot harder to ignore. This is not about a bias against police. No one is more offended by a bad cop than a good cop. The vast majority represent their profession with both honor and honesty.  But one did not.

Over 28 years of wrongful imprisonment at the New Hampshire State Prison, Fr. Gordon McRae has consistently asserted that the case against him was built on lies, cheating and distortion on the part of accusers aided and abetted by a dishonest police officer.  Just as Barry Scheck predicted, those assertions have been ignored or explained away at higher levels of the justice system by judges with a clear bias in favor of police and against defendants - and this defendant in particular.

The last judge to preside over a Habeas Corpus petition to review new evidence and witnesses in the MacRae case allowed errors that I wrote about in "A Grievous Error in Judge Joseph Laplante's Court." That judge, like too many others, was a career prosecutor before his appointment to the federal bench.  He was honored by New Hampshire Magazine in 2003 as "New Hampshire's Top Prosecutor."

In addition to the new evidence and witnesses that this judge declined to hear, much of Father Mac Rae's Habeas Petition that came before his court was about Keene, New Hampshire sex crimes Detective James McLaughlin and the shady tactics he employed to investigate, prosecute and convict MacRae in 1994.

Now it turns out that Detective McLaughlin was sanctioned for "falsification of records" in 1985, nine years before MacRae's trial.  Under a U.S. Supreme court precedent, prosecutors were obligated to reveal that fact to Defendant MacRae and his legal counsel.  They did not.  This is especially egregious because a central issue in this case has been the falsification of police reports and witness tampering. You might think that this priest wrongly imprisoned for the last 28 years should not be the one to write about this because he has a liberty interest.  There has been no one so severely impacted by this story than MacRae himself, and he exposed it brilliantly in a recent post at Beyond These Stone Walls. If you care at all for the integrity of justice in America, read and share this riveting post by Fr. Gordon MacRae  "Predator Police:  The New Hampshire Laurie List Bombshell"

I have also composed a follow-up article on this troubling matter entitled "Police Misconduct:  A Crusader Cop Destroys a Catholic Priest"


Monday, November 15, 2021

At the Catholic Media Association, Bias and a Double Standard

 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Fr Walter Ciszek, Thomas More, Cardinal George Pell all inspired us from prison but the Catholic Media Association silences Fr Gordon MacRae. 

                                                                                                             By Ryan A. MacDonald - 15 November 2021                                                       

The Chicago-based Catholic Media Association (CMA) publishes in its preamble that it exists "to spread and to support the Kingdom of God" with "principles derived from the Catholic faith."  Many Catholics might be hard-pressed to comprehend how that is accomplished by the creation of a new class of lepers in the Church, Catholic priests judged guilty for being accused.

The Catholic Media Association invites those engaged in writing and publishing regarding the Catholic faith - including Catholic bloggers - to apply for membership.  In a review of Fr Gordon MacRae's blog, Beyond These Stone WallsCatholic Culture gave its highest marks for fidelity to the faith and for fairness and content. Our Sunday Visitor cited it as its Readers' Choice for the Best of the Catholic Web. awarded it second place in its "Best Catholic Blog" category.  The National Catholic Register has cited it in various online and print articles.  Catalyst, the Journal of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, has cited it on numerous occasions and has published two centerpiece articles by Fr MacRae who is also a member of the Catholic Writers Guild. But none of this was sufficient to overcome the prison "leper" class into which Father MacRae was relegated by the Catholic Media Association with this terse dismissal from CMA Executive Director Timothy M. Walter:

            "Mr. MacRae:  I appreciate your interest in the Catholic Media Association but I'm sorry to                      inform you that the Membership Committee has denied your request for membership at this                   time." 

Beyond These Stone Walls, the blog of a falsely accused and unjustly imprisoned Catholic priest, is in its twelfth year of publication.  It has inspired people on six continents, and is widely considered to be one of the most visited and influential blogs by a Catholic priest.  Though he is in prison, Father MacRae remains a priest. He has not been removed from the clerical state by the Vatican because the integrity of his trial and conviction has been widely called into question.

In a series of major articles, The Wall Street Journal concluded in 2013, "Those aware of the facts of this case find it hard to believe that any court today would overlook the perversion of justice it represents."  The late Cardinal Avery Dulles urged Father MacRae to "write a new chapter in the volume of Christian literature from those wrongly in prison."  Cardinal Dulles included Father MacRae among such honored names as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Fr Walter Ciszek, St Thomas More, and by extension, Cardinal George Pell.  Ironically, Cardinal Pell devoted several pages of his celebrated Prison Journal Volume Two to the prison writing of Fr Gordon MacRae.

There are other striking ironies in all this.  Shortly before the CMA tersely rejected a membership application from the blog of Father MacRae, the organization awarded his Bishop, Most Reverend Peter A. Libasci of the Diocese of Manchester, with a citation for "Best Column by a Bishop in a Diocesan Magazine."  It was for an essay by Bishop Libasci about his participation at a Black Lives Matter rally.

Before the award was announced, publicity ensued regarding a lawsuit filed against Bishop Libasci alleging sexual abuse of a minor while he was a priest in the Diocese of Rockville Center, New York in 1983.  It was the same year as the allegations against Father MacRae.  Though he was not a bishop at the time of the allegations, Bishop Libasci is nonetheless subjected to a different standard than the "credible" standard now applied to accused priests.  Despite the pending civil case, Bishop Libasci remains in office and in good standing.  It seems that the Catholic Media Association, like the Vatican, has a different standard when the accused priest later becomes a bishop despite the fact that Bishop Libasci was "Father" Libasci at the time of these claims.

I have studied in detail the lawsuit against Bishop Libasci and all the media accounts that have sprung from it.  I should add here that I do not believe any of the claims against him for the same reasons that I do not believe any of the claims against Father MacRae.  None of them are rationally credible, and all of them are brought for monetary gain.

But it was Father MacRae's own writing that most swayed me on this matter.  He laid out a solid defense of his bishop, and of the canonical right to a presumption of innocence, in his widely read and highly cited article, "Bishop Peter A. Libasci Was Set Up by Governor Andrew Cuomo."

The Catholic Media Association should, in fairness, rethink this.  Father MacRae is not looking for awards.  He wants only justice and consistency.  He has a right to be spared the bias and blatant double standards that have been employed here.  He has a right to his good name.


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Sunday, December 8, 2019

A Dark Age for Priests: Bishops as Judge, Jury, Executioner

                                By Ryan A. MacDonald

As a national spotlight is on New Hampshire's First in the Nation Presidential Primary, Bishop Peter Libasci chose this moment to deny the civil rights of his priests.   

In August, 2019, Bishop Peter Libasci of the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire, published a list of the names of priests "credibly" accused in that state over the past fifty years.  The bishop cited "transparency" as his reason.

The list contains the names of 73 accused priests. More than half are deceased.  Only five of the 73 ever had a case for prosecution before any New Hampshire court.  All of the claims alleged abuse from three to five decades ago.  All were brought with financial demands resulting in secret settlements from the Diocese.

Bishop Peter Libasci's published list was generated by a one-sided grand jury investigation of the Diocese launched in 2002.  That investigation treated all claims in civil lawsuits and other demands for settlement as "credible" with no standard of evidence.

Bishop Libasci's press release also revealed that the claims against all 73 priests were determined to be "credible."  This is a standard that the United States bishops adopted at their Dallas meeting in 2002.  "Credible," as the bishops are applying it, means only "possible."  If it could have happened, it's credible.  A 2003 grand jury investigation report that a previous Bishop of Manchester agreed to publish was the source for the list.

My article cited above was followed by a related article by Fr. Gordon MacRae, a priest of the Manchester Diocese whose name appears on his bishop's list.  The list was published by a diocese whose previous bishop told others in secret that "I firmly believe Father MacRae is innocent and should not be in prison." 

Father MacRae's article is "A Grand Jury, St. Paul's School, and the Diocese of Manchester."
From reports I have seen generated by These Stone Walls, the article was heavily read around the world, most notably in Washington D.C., at the Holy See, and throughout Rome.  In New Hampshire, it was the most-read article of the year at These Stone Walls.

My article, "In the Diocese of Manchester; Transparency and a Hit List," focused on injustices behind the scenes in a decision of the Bishop and Diocese to publish that list anew.  Father MacRae's remarkable sequel brought to light a judge's ruling that publishing these grand jury reports - and by extension the Bishop's list of names - is barred under New Hampshire law.

Given the various one-sided grand jury investigations of Catholic dioceses across the U.S., Judge McNamara's Court Order should give Catholics pause.  The judicial findings summarized below cast doubt on the decisions of Bishop Libasci and other U.S. bishops to publish lists of names of accused priests arising from grand jury investigations:

  • "This Court disagrees with the decision to approve the 2003 Diocese-OAG Agreement.  The Agreement fulfilled none of the traditional purposes of the common law grand jury."
  • "The report agreed to in 2003 between the OAG and Diocese did not protect the privacy interests of subjects who were never charged with a crime by the grand jury.  It provided no due process protections for reputational rights with redactions of subjects' names to protect their right to reputation."

  • "Grand jury testimony can involve all sorts of false, damaging, and one-sided information and New Hampshire has no historical or legal basis for releasing such information."

  • "An allegation of wrongdoing or impropriety based on half-truths, illegally seized evidence, or rumor, innuendo or hearsay may blight a person's life indefinitely."  (Source:  Order of Judge Richard B. McNamara In Re:  Grand Jury No. 217-2018-CV-00382, August 12, 2019)


It is disturbing that the decision of Bishop Peter Libasci to publish the list of accused priests took place just days before the above Order by Judge McNamara was issued.  This is ironic and highly suspect.  It seems many U.S. Bishops are listening to their lawyers more than they are listening to the Pope.

On February 21, 2019, six months before Bishop Libasci threw his accused priests under the bus, Pope Francis signed a set of guidelines for bishops to follow on how allegations of sexual abuse by priests should be handled.  The list included 21 points that Pope Francis asked the bishops to observe.  Here is Point #14:

  • "The right to defense; the principle of natural and canon law of a presumption of innocence must also be safeguarded until the guilt of the accused is proven.  Therefore, it is necessary to prevent the lists of the accused being published, even by dioceses, before the preliminary investigation and a definitive condemnation." (Source: Guidelines of Pope Francis, February 19, 2019)

Rev. Thomas Guarino, Professor of Systematic Theology at Seton Hall University, has published what I consider to be a landmark article entitled "The Dark Side of the Dallas Charter."  (First Things, October 2, 2019.  Father Guarino characterized the 2002 Dallas Charter - the operable document under which accused priests are removed from all ministry:

  • "With their Dallas Charter of 2002 . . . the American bishops decreed 'zero tolerance' for priests accused of sexual abuse, a norm that violates equitable treatment for priests.  Cardinal Avery Dulles added, 'Having been so severely criticized for exercising poor judgment in the past, the bishops apparently wanted to avoid making any judgments in these cases.' "

Father Thomas Guarino points out that Pope Francis has been reluctant to invoke the term "zero-tolerance."  The Wall Street Journal  reported that of the 20 countries in the world with the largest Catholic populations, only the Bishops of the United States adopted a policy of zero tolerance for priests accused.  If any other American citizen were subjected to such standards for being shamed on public lists, lawsuits would soon follow.

After the Dallas Charter was enacted at the 2002 U.S. Bishops' Conference in Dallas, the late Father Richard John Neuhaus interviewed an American prelate who was one of the unnamed architects of the Charter.  Father Neuhaus quoted him in a First Things article:  "It may be necessary for some innocent priests to suffer for the good of the Church."  That prelate, according to Father MacRae was Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

"Zero tolerance" is an insult to Catholic theology and to our priests who are disenfranchised from their priesthood on the whim of a bishop after being accused.

"Transparency," however, as invoked by Bishop Peter Libasci and other bishops, is an insult to all the rest of us who have waited in the dense fog they call "transparency" for the Church to reflect the mirror of justice this world needs Her to be.

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Note:   A more complete version of this post by Ryan A. MacDonald was published at These Stone Walls under the title,


Bishop Peter Libasci, Diocese of Manchester, Priests, Bishops, New Hampshire First in the Nation Presidential Primary, Grand Jury investigation of Diocese, Fr. Gordon MacRae, Judge Richard McNamara, Rev. Thomas Guarino, Father Thomas Guarino, Dallas Charter, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Catholic New Hampshire

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Testimony Judge Joseph Laplante Has Not Heard

 The Testimony Judge Joseph Laplante Has Not Heard

                   By Ryan A. MacDonald

Video documentary testimony of Rev. Gordon MacRae is a compelling challenge to the standard Catholic abuse narrative.  Is that why it went missing for seven years?

As long time readers know, I have written about the story of abuse in the Catholic Church and priesthood from multiple angles.  Some of those who present themselves as authority sources for this story are charlatans with agendas of their own.

Sites such as Bishop Accountability and the beleaguered and widely discredited SNAP, the Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests, have counted on their audiences to both share their agendas and to not look too closely at their lurid accounts.  I find that those who still routinely cite them as authorities generally share their obvious agenda to disrupt the Catholic Church, weaken its voice, and demolish its priesthood.

The story I and others have followed most closely is that of Father Gordon MacRae, a priest approaching his 25th year in prison when he could have been out in one year had he actually been guilty or willing to pretend so. I find most compelling the bravery necessary to stand by the truth in the face of such personal cost.  Others, however, still stick to their narrative.  For example, I just received this from a comment posted at the conservative site, Church Militant:

     "MacRae is in prison where he belongs.  Take a look some day at the long list of this               creep's crimes at bishop-accountability. Notice that he confessed to several indiscretions of the sodomic (sic) variety.  If he lied about those incidents when he confessed to authorities, then he could.easily be lying now to credulous people like you..."

As is usual, the writer of this twisted take on things gets to put it out there without taking any responsibility for it by  publishing his name.  Father Gordon MacRae, on the other hand, has courageously posted under his own name from prison for the last ten years in the face of vitriol from those with the worse combination of human traits:  closed minds and open mouths.

I  and others have written extensively about the corrupt bias and agendas of the site the above writer refers to. (See and follow the links to related articles).  A problem with the Bishop-Accountability site is that it plays the "every one's a victim" card by redacting all names of accusers so that readers never know who it is they are reading about.

In "A Priest's Story" Parts I and II, The Wall Street Journal's Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Dorothy Rabinowitz wrote the same story, but independently investigated it.  She named the accusers, thoroughly debunked their claims, and demonstrated the fact that most were "serial accusers" having made identical claims against multiple others in attempts to squeeze money out of the accused.

She uncovered the story of one such "victim," a man who has since recanted his entire set of accusations against MacRae while Bishop-Accountability has ignored his recantations.  He today says he was approached by a corrupt detective with a promise of money if he would concoct a claim against MacRae "as others had done." He states today that MacRae is entirely innocent.

This man who recanted is convinced that the others now in hiding - others he knew well as they all concocted their claims together - also created false stories with the enticement of money.  I should add here that Father MacRae took and conclusively passed multiple polygraph examinations in this case while his accusers remain unresponsive to requests that they now do the same.

In June of 2016 I wrote about "The Grievous Error in Judge Joseph Laplante's Court." Judge Laplante is a United States District Court Chief Justice.  In 2016 Father MacRae and his legal team brought a habeas corpus petition before Judge Laplante with an extensive, well-investigated, and well documented Memorandum of Law in support of Father MacRae's efforts to seek a new trial. As a hearing was held in U.S. District Court in Concord, New Hampshire, the imprisoned priest was in his jail cell just a few miles away forbidden from being present.  Like State judges before him, Judge Laplante ultimately dismissed the appeal without allowing any testimony from Father MacRae or any of the named witnesses who were prepared to testify on his behalf.  The judge, a former prosecutor, seemed to lapse into his prosecutorial role by undermining witness testimony without actually even hearing it.

The most convincing testimony for MacRae's defense is in his own words.  The commenter cited above has not indicated whether he looked and listened, but I have listened extensively to newly released video documentary evidence in which this beleaguered priest got to do what he was prevented from doing at his trial, and at every effort for justice since.He spoke openly and candidly about his accusations and accusers, and it is both riveting and compelling.  Here is what he wrote about this video testimony at These Stone Walls:
   "All I am asking of the Church is simply to be heard.  As I approach the ominous 25-year mark in wrongful imprisonment, being heard feels almost as important to me as being free.  Almost! At my trial and sentencing 25 years ago, I was not permitted to utter a single word in my own defense.

      "At a flawed 1996 appeal represented by a public defender, I was not even allowed to be present. In three attempts at habeas corpus appeal at the state and federal levels, neither I nor any witness on my behalf was allowed to speak.  At no time since my 1994 trial has anyone heard a single  word from me.

     "Since then, all the pundits of both left and right have had their say.  SNAP has had its say, invited by the US Bishops to help shape the Dallas Charter.  SNAP demanded, and was given, the ruin of a filial relationship of trust between bishops and priests, transforming it into a model of servitude in which priests are summarily separated from their civil and canonical rights.

     "Voice of the Faithful has had its say, using 'The Scandal' toward its own ends to reshape the Church in its own image and likeness.  Bishop-Accountability has had its say, recklessly treating every lawsuit and decades old demand for money as 'proof' that condemns every priest to the dubious justice of 'guilty for being accused.'
     "The contingency lawyers have had their say, relentlessly brow beating Church officials into more than $3.5 billion in unquestioned financial settlements across America since the story emerged in the early 1990s.

     "And every step of the way for over twenty-five years, the news media, including the Catholic media, has aided and abetted this by both hyping stories of real abuse and suppressing stories of false witness and greed.

      "Now, after 25 years of silent endurance, it is my turn to speak."

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I for one am inclined to let him, and I suggest you do the same.  The video documentary testimony in Father Gordon MacRae's own words should not be missed.  And if you care at all for the Church and priesthood, that testimony should be widely shared.

You will find it at the ABOUT Page at These Stone Walls.  Just scroll to it.  The audio portion of Part I begins about 30 seconds into the tape.

And please share this post.