Eugene priest heading to trial on prostitution charges
With a trial in the case set to begin, Lane County prosecutors have dismissed the lone felony charge against a Eugene priest charged with paying for sex with an underage girl.
The move, announced Tuesday in a court filing by Assistant Lane County District Attorney JoAnn Miller, means that Daniel James MacKay will go to trial on nine misdemeanor charges. A six-person jury is expected to be seated in the case on Thursday.
The felony had charged MacKay with attempting to use a minor in the commission of a controlled substance offense. It alleged MacKay had used an underage girl to help him make or distribute cocaine.
MacKay, 42, is now charged with four counts of prostitution, four counts of endangering the welfare of a minor and one count of sexual misconduct.
MacKay has pleaded not guilty to all charges. His lawyer, Terri Wood, said after MacKay’s arrest in October that her client maintains his innocence.
MacKay became a priest at the St. John the Wonderworker Orthodox Church in Eugene’s Whiteaker neighborhood in 2011. After his arrest, the Western American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church announced it had suspended MacKay from church duties pending the outcome of his criminal case and a separate investigation being conducted by church officials.
Eugene police arrested MacKay after a detective arranged a meeting with him while posing as the alleged victim in the case. The girl had been arrested in September for prostitution, police said.
Prosecutors said Wednesday in court that they had dismissed prostitution charges filed against the girl, so that she may testify against MacKay.
In addition to serving with the church, MacKay worked before his arrest as a part-time instructor at Lane Community College. MacKay began teaching English composition at the college in 2008.
Jury selection in MacKay’s trial is expected to happen Thursday. Attorneys are spending Wednesday working through pretrial motions with Lane County Circuit Judge Karrie McIntyre.
MacKay faces jail time if convicted.
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