Father Gordon MacRae
Attorney Robert Rosenthal has filed a new-trial motion for Father Gordon MacRae, whose case is sponsored by the National Center for Reason and Justice. He has supplied us with a copy of his opening brief. Here is Rosenthal’s introduction to the brief:
In the early 1990s, it was well known in and around Keene, New Hampshire that the local Catholic diocese was paying huge sums of money to young men claiming to have been abused by their childhood priests. Tom Grover, a drug addict and alcoholic with neither a job nor prospects,
looked to his own payday. Grover accused father Gordon MacRae of having molested him as a teenager, and sued the New Hampshire diocese. He won nearly $200,000 dollars for his efforts and his testimony convicted MacRae of terrible crimes.
There was no evidence to support Grover’s claims, other than his testimony. There was not a single witness to the acts alleged in Grover’s stories of molestation though they were to have happened in busy, populated places. The convictions – and the money – turned on Grover’s performance.
Recently, newly discovered evidence has revealed that before trial, Grover admitted to friends and family that his accusations were lies manufactured for diocese cash, and that he would, and did commit perjury at MacRae’s trial. Those people have also reported Grover’s conduct after he got his money – conduct that included more admissions of perjury, and that undermines any notion that his stories were anything but lies.
In addition to Grover’s overall fraud on the criminal justice system, review of the record in the light and context of the new evidence also reveals a trial marked by actions and inaction of defense counsel that not only undermined the defense, but served the state, and assured the conviction.
The conviction here came during a period of time that has since been widely recognized as fostering a wave in sexual abuse accusations and convictions – often in cases in which the claimed acts were objectively impossible, but also in cases like this, in which accusations were technically possible, but objectively unlikely. As Grover admitted to his friends and family, his efforts toward MacRae’s conviction were based on that wave of false convictions. Thus, as those times largely gone by nourished the prosecution and fostered the conviction, a measured and historically aware review reveals that it was unjust and must be vacated.
You may read the entire brief by clicking here.
The entire trial transcript is available here.
The state’s reply brief is available here.