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Possible miscarriage of justiced in New Hampshire, centered in Keene

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  • Tim Condon
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    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 27, 2005
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      > What follows ran today in The Wall Street Journal. Author
      > Dorothy Rabinowitz is a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter
      > with the Journal who broke the fake "child abuse" charges in
      > Wenatchee, Washington (along with Paul Craig Roberts:
      > http://www.vdare.com/roberts/wenatchee.htm) that destroyed many lives.
      > FYI, for those of you in the Free State.
      > ----------------------------------------------------------------
      > Tim Condon - Tampa, FL - Ofc: 813-251-2626
      > Move and Live Free: www.freestateproject.org
      > <http://www.freestateproject.org>
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      > <a><img></a><br>
      > A Priest's Story
      > April 27, 2005; Page A14
      > Nine years after he had been convicted and sent to prison on charges
      > of sexual assault against a teenaged boy, Father Gordon MacRae
      > received a letter in July 2003 from Nixon Peabody LLP, a law firm
      > representing the Diocese of Manchester, N.H. Under the circumstances
      > -- he was a priest serving a life term -- and after all he had seen,
      > the cordial-sounding inquiry should not perhaps have chilled him as
      > much as it did.
      > ". . . an individual named Brett McKenzie has brought a claim against
      > the Diocese of Manchester seeking a financial settlement as a result
      > of alleged conduct by you," the letter informed him. There was a
      > limited window of opportunity for an agreement that would release him
      > and the Diocese from liability. He should understand, the lawyer
      > added, that this request didn't require Fr. MacRae to acknowledge in
      > any way what Mr. McKenzie had alleged. "Rather, I simply need to know
      > whether you would object to a settlement agreement."
      > Fr. MacRae promptly fired a letter off, through his lawyer, declaring
      > he had no idea who Mr. McKenzie was, had never met him, and he was
      > confounded by the request that he assent to any such payment. Neither
      > he nor his lawyers ever received any response. Fr. MacRae had little
      > doubt that the stranger -- like others who had emerged, long after
      > trial, with allegations and attorneys, and, frequently, just-recovered
      > memories of abuse -- got his settlement.
      > By the time he was taken off to prison in 1994, payouts for such
      > claims against priests promised to surpass the rosiest dreams of civil
      > attorneys. The promise was duly realized: In 2003, the Boston
      > Archdiocese paid $85 million for some 54 claimants. The Portland,
      > Ore., Archdiocese, which had already handed over some $53 million,
      > declared bankruptcy in 2004, when confronted with $155 million in new
      > claims. Those of Tucson and Spokane soon did the same.
      > Fr. MacRae's own Diocese of Manchester had the distinction, in 2002,
      > of being the first to be threatened with criminal charges. According
      > to the New Hampshire Attorney General's office, the state was prepared
      > to seek indictments on charges of child endangerment. To avert
      > prosecution, the diocese signed an agreement much publicized by the
      > AG's office, acknowledging that it was likely that the state could
      > obtain a conviction. (Attorneys familiar with the issue had their
      > doubts about that.) Meanwhile, claims and payments continued apace. By
      > the end of 2004, the Diocese audit showed a total of $22,210,400 --
      > thus far -- in settlements.
      > That the scandals which began reaching flood tide in the late '90s had
      > to do with charges all too amply documented, and that involved true
      > predators, no one would dispute. Nor can there be much doubt that
      > those scandals, their non-stop press coverage, and the irresistible
      > pressure on the Church to show proof of cleansing resulted in a system
      > that rewarded false claims along with the true. An expensive
      > arrangement, that -- in more ways than one.
      > * * *
      > No one would be more aware of that than Gordon MacRae, whose
      > infuriated response to the Nixon Peabody attorney included reference
      > to "the settlement game." He didn't trouble to mention the cost the
      > game had exacted in his case. For the last few years, he has shared a
      > seven-and-a-half by 14 foot cell with one other inmate at the New
      > Hampshire State Penitentiary. For this, he is thankful as only a
      > prisoner can be who had had the experience of being housed, his first
      > five years in prison, with eight men in a cell built for four. Every
      > inmate ever placed in such a cell lives in fear of having to return
      > and he is no exception, he notes. Still it had been easier on him than
      > some around him.
      > "I had an interior life -- others had less."
      > At St. Bernard Parish in New Hampshire, the patient, energetic young
      > Fr. MacRae was the one chosen for work with troubled teenagers,
      > invariably assigned to drug addiction centers. Through it all he
      > remained oblivious to snares that might lie in the path of a priest
      > for the young and needy. He was soon to be educated.
      > In the spring of 1983, 14-year-old Lawrence Carnevale cried bitterly
      > upon learning that Fr. Gordon, whom he adored, was to move to another
      > parish, and threw himself onto the priest's lap. He made phone calls
      > to Fr. Gordon at his new parish. Within a few months, the youth told
      > his psychotherapist that Fr. Gordon had kissed him. Three years later
      > -- expelled from his Catholic High School for carrying a weapon -- he
      > told a counselor that the priest had fondled him and run his hands up
      > his leg. At roughly the same time, he accused a male teacher at St.
      > Thomas High School of making advances to him, then made the same
      > allegation against his study hall teacher at Winnacunnet High School.
      > Police Detective Arthur Wardell, who investigated, concluded in his
      > report that this was a young man who basked in the attention such
      > charges brought him, and that there was no basis to them.
      > Lawrence Carnevale nonetheless had more revelations of abuse a decade
      > later. In 1993, he alleged that Fr. MacRae had held a gun on him, and
      > had forced him to masturbate while licking the barrel. Clearly, his
      > narrative of trauma had undergone extraordinary transformation.
      > Prosecutors and their experts invariably explain such dazzling
      > enrichment in the charges as being the result of an accuser's newfound
      > courage. They would have occasion to make numerous explanations of
      > this kind throughout Fr. MacRae's trial. Though Lawrence Carnevale's
      > own case would not come before a court, his charges would play their
      > role in bolstering a 1994 criminal case brought against the priest. He
      > would have the satisfaction, as well, of hearing the presiding judge
      > cite the torment and lifelong pain Lawrence Carnevale had suffered at
      > the hands of Fr. MacRae.
      > * * *
      > A decade earlier, his stories had also had their effect on Fr. MacRae,
      > who was unnerved by them, depressed by the suspicions they raised. He
      > had no idea of the disturbances yet to come. In 1988, 17-year-old
      > Michael Rossi, a patient at the Spofford Chemical Dependency Hospital,
      > asked to meet with him. Not long into their talk, which was supposed
      > to be about his addiction, the man became agitated, exposed himself,
      > and began telling him about his other sexual encounters at the
      > hospital. Fr. MacRae walked quickly away, his memories of the
      > Carnevale accusations still fresh, and declared he was about to open
      > the door -- a threat that chastened the patient enough to zip up.
      > Before walking away, though, he had a final, warning query for the
      > priest: "This was confession, right?"
      > Gordon MacRae now recalls the words with some wryness, though at the
      > time he was far from sanguine. He discussed the incident with his
      > superiors, along with his fears about having to disclose, to police,
      > details of an encounter the Spofford patient had declared a
      > "confession." Msgr. Frank Christian offered reassurances. Fr. MacRae
      > was suspended nevertheless, pending an investigation. Two months
      > later, state police who conducted an investigation declared the case
      > unfounded and closed it -- which did little to keep the Spofford
      > incident from feeding the suspicions of Detective James McLaughlin,
      > sex crimes investigator for the Keene police department, then just
      > beginning what was to become a considerable career in his field,
      > particularly for his stings involving child molesters.
      > Other factors, too, had played their role in focusing his attention on
      > the priest, not least a letter sent by a Catholic Youth Services
      > social worker after the Spofford Hospital incident. The letter
      > informed the investigator of authoritative information the worker had
      > received that Fr. MacRae was a suspect in the murder and
      > sex-mutilation of a Florida boy. It was a while before word from
      > Florida police, revealing the story as bogus, caught up with the
      > social workers and police in Keene. Meanwhile, Detective McLaughlin
      > was busy interrogating some 22 teenage boys whom Fr. MacRae knew or
      > had counseled. Despite determined, repeated questioning, he could find
      > no one with any complaints about the priest.
      > He did, however, have teenager Jon Plankey, who claimed that Fr.
      > MacRae had attempted to solicit sex from him. The charges stemmed from
      > a convoluted conversation in which the Plankey boy, saying he would do
      > anything for the money, asked for a loan of $75, which Fr. MacRae
      > declined to give. Jon Plankey had already made a molestation complaint
      > against a Job Corp supervisor, and would go on to charge a church
      > choir director. He also charged a man in Florida with attempted abuse.
      > As the Plankey saga showed, the role played by the prospect of
      > financial settlement from the church tended to announce itself with
      > remarkable speed. Jon Plankey's mother worked for the Keene Police.
      > Even before Fr. MacRae was aware of the accusations, the then-Msgr.
      > (now Auxiliary Bishop) Frank Christian received a call from Mrs.
      > Plankey informing him that she had learned that Fr. MacRae was being
      > investigated on solicitation charges involving her son, and that a
      > settlement would be in order if the diocese were to avoid a lawsuit
      > and lawyers. The Plankeys claims were duly settled out of court (after
      > added claims that the priest had taken pornographic pictures of Jon.)
      > Fr. MacRae, summoned to meet with Detective McLaughlin, was informed
      > that there was much evidence against him -- including the Spofford
      > Hospital incident -- that the police had an affidavit for an arrest,
      > and that it would be in everybody's best interest for him to clear
      > everything up and sign a confession. On the police tape, an otherwise
      > bewildered-sounding Fr. MacRae is consistently clear about one thing
      > -- that he in no way solicited the Plankey boy for sex or anything
      > else. "I don't understand," he says more than once, his tone that of a
      > man who feels that there must, indeed, be something for him to
      > understand about the charge and its causes that eludes him. On a leave
      > of absence from his duties at the parish, depressed over the return of
      > undiagnosed seizures in the recent year -- which had not plagued him
      > since early childhood -- he listens as the police assure him that he
      > can save all the bad publicity.
      > * * *
      > "Our concern is, let's get it taken care of, let's not blow it out of
      > proportion . . . . You know what the media does," they warned. He
      > could avoid all the stories, protect the church, let it all go away
      > quietly. At one point Fr. MacRae asked for the recorder to be turned
      > off for a moment, lest his answer to questions about a male
      > parishioner's visit to him embarrass a woman in the community. From
      > here on the interview continued unrecorded. As far as Fr. MacRae could
      > see, the police had knowledge of a terrible wrong he had done the
      > Plankey boy that could endanger him, psychologically, for life. He
      > recalls that when he thought to ask for a lawyer -- a request
      > Detective McLaughlin denies, today, that Fr. MacRae made -- he was
      > told that would only muddy the waters. Here was his opportunity to
      > take care of things, avoid arrest, an eruption of media attention
      > damaging to the church. After four hours of interrogation, Fr. MacRae
      > agreed to sign a statement that he had endangered the welfare of a
      > minor, a misdemeanor. Before affixing his signature, he saw that the
      > detective had added the names of three more boys. Nobody, he was told,
      > is going to believe you solicited just one boy.
      > Shortly after, Sgt. Hal Brown, Detective McLaughlin's partner in the
      > interrogation, alerted reporters to the confession, via a press
      > release, which produced the inevitable storm of media publicity,
      > "Though no sexual acts were committed by MacRae," it noted, "there are
      > often varied levels of victimization." The release went on to commend
      > Officer McLaughlin for his excellent work.
      > /*Ms. Rabinowitz is a member of the Journal's editorial board. This is
      > the first of two parts, the second of which appears tomorrow*/

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