Instructor incarcerated

Eugene priest and part-time college instructor convicted on prostitution charges

Courtesy of Lane Count Sheriff's Office.
Mugshot of Daniel MacKay.

Local priest and part-time Lane faculty Daniel MacKay has been convicted on three counts of prostitution and will serve a 90-day sentence.

MacKay began teaching as a part-time instructor in English composition at Lane Community College in 2008. After the arrest, Lane placed MacKay on paid administrative leave. At the time of publication, Lane has yet to formally review his employment status.

MacKay was also part-time faculty member at Northwest Christian University. He was placed on unpaid leave in October and is no longer employed at NCU.

MacKay began duties as a priest at St. John the Wonderworker Orthodox Church in the Whiteaker neighborhood of Eugene in 2011.

In Oct. 2016, MacKay was arrested  for 10 counts of four different offenses – one count of attempting to use a minor to traffic a controlled substance, in this case cocaine; four counts of prostitution; three counts of endangering the welfare of a minor; and one count of sexual misconduct.

The drug charge that MacKay faced is a felony offense. Prostitution, endangering the welfare of a minor and sexual misconduct are all misdemeanor offenses in Oregon.

All counts of welfare endangerment were for allegedly causing or permitting an unmarried person under eighteen to witness sexual conduct. The single count of sexual misconduct was for allegedly engaging in sexual intercourse with an unmarried person under the age of 18.

According to the Register Guard, 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.

MacKay was arrested in October during a sting operation performed by the Eugene police. A detective from the Eugene Police Department posed as the minor, age 17 at the time, and arranged a meeting with MacKay. The minor was arrested in September on prostitution charges. According to the Register Guard, the prosecution dismissed her charges so she could testify.

MacKay was indicted by a grand jury in Oct. 2016. The trial was initially set for Jan. 31, 2017, but was postponed to Feb. 22.

The felony drug charge was dropped prior to the trial. The defense provided evidence from hair analysis indicating that MacKay had not taken cocaine in the past year and a half.

According to Patrick White, Lane alumni and occasional church volunteer who has known MacKay for the past year and attended the trial, the police found a white powder in MacKay’s possession during the arrest, which was later found to be an incense powder for church practices.

“It came down to a girl who changed her story from the police, her story from the grand jury was different to the trial jury. She changed her stories,” White said.

MacKay filed a motion requesting that the court disclose the minor’s testimony to the grand jury and all applicable notes. As of the end of the trial, the grand jury records were not made public.

The trial focused on communications between MacKay and the minor via text messages, MacKay’s communications with others, MacKay’s receipts and the testimonies of Detective Curtis Newell, MacKay, and the minor.

The defense argued that MacKay’s interactions with the minor were no different than with other homeless people he had a record of assisting. He did not deny giving her money, but he argued that he provided assistance because she appeared homeless and in need.

The prosecution argued that MacKay understood the language of the prostitution trade and his texts were interpreted accordingly.

When Newell was communicating with MacKay, the detective asked for MacKay to purchase a condom. Later MacKay texted that they should “do it BB.”

The prosecution argued that in context the abbreviation was prostitution trade slang for “bareback” — sex without protection.

The defense argued that MacKay did not respond to the text about purchasing a condom, and when he said “BB” he was referring to Burrito Boy, where the two had eaten together in the past. The defense produced a Burrito Boy receipt as physical evidence to back the claim.

On March 2, the trial jury found MacKay guilty of three of the four counts of prostitution and not guilty of all other offenses.

The court received letters from 83 community members expressing support for MacKay and requesting clemency on his behalf.

Judge Karrie McIntyre imposed a 90-day consecutive sentence. The first 30 days of MacKay’s sentence must be served in jail, without alternatives. The remaining 60 days are eligible for alternate program such as community service. MacKay must also serve probation, “complete any treatment” ordered by the probation officer and attend a sex buyer accountability class.