Grand jury returns 10-count indictment against Eugene priest in sex, drug case

Author: Jack Moran
Date Published: 10/27/2016
Daniel MacKay
Daniel MacKay

A Lane County grand jury has returned a 10-count indictment against a Eugene priest who was arrested earlier this month for alleged sex and drug crimes involving an underage girl.

Daniel James MacKay, 42, pleaded not guilty to the charges — nine misdemeanors and one felony — Wednesday morning in Lane County Circuit Court.

“Father MacKay maintains his innocence, and we ask that people not prejudge him based on the accusations,” his lawyer, Terri Wood of Eugene, said Wednesday afternoon.

MacKay faces four prostitution charges that accuse him of offering to pay for sex; four charges of endangering the welfare of a minor, for allegedly causing an underage girl to “witness an act of sexual conduct”; one count of sexual misconduct, for allegedly having sex with the girl; and one count of attempting to use a minor in the commission of a controlled substance offense, for allegedly trying to use the girl to help him traffic cocaine.

All of the alleged crimes occurred in September.

Prosecutors initially filed four charges against MacKay after his Oct. 12 arrest. The original charging document included single counts of prostitution, endangering the welfare of a minor, sexual misconduct and using a minor in the commission of a controlled substance offense.

MacKay spent one day in the Lane County Jail after police arrested him. He was bailed out on Oct. 13.

He told The Register-Guard following his release from jail that he and his supporters were “concerned” and “praying for everybody involved” in what he characterized as a “deeply unfortunate situation.”

MacKay was booked back into the jail after his court appearance Wednesday, and released later in the day on his own recognizance.

MacKay became a priest at the St. John the Wonderworker Orthodox Church in Eugene’s Whiteaker neighborhood in 2011.

On Oct. 14 — the same day MacKay spoke with the newspaper — the Western American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church announced in a press release that it had suspended MacKay from church duties pending the outcome of his criminal case and a separate investigation being conducted by church officials.

“While everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty, the Western American Diocese nonetheless takes allegations of misconduct in any form very seriously and must act accordingly to ensure the safety and security of all our Orthodox parishioners and others as we conduct our worship and ministries together,” the press release reads.

“Such misconduct is abhorrent and not condoned by the Holy Orthodox Faith,” it states, adding that the church “stands ready to cooperate with the civil authorities” involved in MacKay’s case.

Eugene police arrested MacKay during a sting operation in which a detective arranged a meeting with him while posing as the alleged victim in his case. The girl had been arrested in September for prostitution, police said.

Investigators suspect MacKay met with the girl on several occasions, police said.

In addition to serving with the church, MacKay worked before his arrest as a part-time instructor at Lane Community College. LCC officials did not immediately return a phone message Wednesday seeking information about MacKay’s employment status. MacKay began teaching English composition at the college in 2008.

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