OR--Orthodox pastor arrested on a sex charge, victims respond

For immediate release: Thursday, October 20, 2016

Statement by Melanie Jula Sakoda of Moraga, California, Orthodox Director for SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (925-708-6175[email protected])

A Serbian Orthodox priest was arrested last week on a sex charge and a St. Louis based victims’ group wants church officials to stop some parishioners from rallying around him.

Father Daniel James Mackay, pastor of Saint John the Wonderworker Orthodox Church in Eugene, was arrested on October 12th on suspicion of purchasing sex with a minor on more than one occasion and also of using the girl to traffic cocaine.


Members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, responded to the news. 

Melanie Jula Sakoda, one of the two Orthodox Directors for SNAP stated, “Since, according to the police, this apparently wasn’t a ‘one time’ offense, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that kids in the parish were also victimized. Parents need to be acutely aware of this possibility and not rush to the defense of the priest in front of their children. It’s really hard for survivors to come forward, and public displays of support for the clergyman, and I'm already aware of one in this case, can have a chilling effect on these important disclosures.”


The survivors’ group publishes specific guidelines on “What to do when your priest is accused of abuse.”


SNAP also commented on the fact that the press release on the website of the Western American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America was very different from the one appearing on the website of the Eugene parish in one important respect.

The statement on the diocesan website said that “While the criminal proceedings are pending and until the conclusion of ecclesiastical proceedings, Father Daniel will be suspended from all pastoral duties to which he was assigned.”


The release on the parish website said only, “While the charges are pending, Father Daniel who was the parish priest at St. John the Wonderworker Serbian Orthodox Church in Eugene, Oregon, has since October 12, 2016, voluntarily taken leave from all priestly ministry duties to which he was assigned.”

Two links published on October 20, 2016, no longer contain the version of the letter from the Western American Diocese which said that Father Daniel James Mackay was on an involuntary leave of absence.

It was expected that Saint John the Wonderworker's website would eventually delete that version of the letter, which is why SNAP included a link to a screen shot of the letter taken on October 15, 2016, which previously could be found on the Wayback Machine. The disappearance of the link on the Internet Archive was unanticipated.

SNAP regrets any confusion this may have caused the media, or our readers. A PDF file of the original letter can still be found here.

Cappy Larson of San Francisco, the other SNAP Orthodox Director, felt that this was another indication that at least some people in the parish were trying to minimize the seriousness of the allegations.

“The diocesan website states that Father Daniel is facing criminal proceedings now, and will later face church discipline. It also says that he is suspended from the priesthood until both are concluded. A suspension sends an unambiguous message to parishioners that abuse will not be tolerated, and it also makes it clear that the clergyman had no choice in the matter.”

Sakoda agreed with Larson’s assessment, “On the other hand, the statement on the parish website eliminates the word ‘criminal,’ never mentions ecclesiastical proceedings, and simply says Father Daniel took a voluntary leave of absence. It sends a very different message!” 

Both releases said that while the clergyman is presumed innocent, the diocese took allegations of sexual misconduct seriously, and would cooperate with the civil authorities. Anyone who had been victimized by members of the diocesan clergy, or by church employees or volunteers, was urged to call the police and then report to the diocesan ombudsman at 415-930-9069

Larson said, “I’m delighted to see that the diocese recommends that victims go to the police first. However, I’m concerned that a number for an ‘ombudsman’ who’s supposed to take reports of sexual assaults was given without clarifying who answers the phone, or even what times the phone is manned. I don’t think Church officials realize how difficult it is for survivors to come forward, and how important it is not to make this process any more difficult.”

“Moreover, if the diocese has a sexual abuse policy and an ombudsman, it should be prominently displayed on its website,” added Sakoda. “I couldn’t find any information at all on the site about reporting clergy abuse.”

Both women encouraged anyone who experienced, witnessed or suspected abuse by Mackay to contact the civil authorities. They said that any little piece of information could be helpful to the police.

And both women urged Serbian officials to prohibit public displays of support for Mackay which, they say, intimidates and deters other victims, witnesses and whistle blowers from reporting known or suspected abuse.

Western American Diocese (626-289-9061[email protected]) Their website ishttp://www.westsrbdio.org and the bishop is Maxim Vasiljevic.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

Contact - Melanie Jula Sakoda (925-708-6175[email protected]), Cappy Larson(415-637-2006[email protected]), David Clohessy (314-566-9790,[email protected])


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  • Michael James Kinsey
    commented 2017-04-07 11:24:22 -0500
    sim and his monks, even after Pangratious and Herman were gone was one very unpleasant experience. I sought Chrismation from Bishop Maxim, as The Annunciation orthodox baptism was declared bogus. Imagine that! I was confrounted by Fr Mackay concerning the LBGT agenda which I vehemently oppose. Mackay tried to forbid me to speak against the thier agenda. I declare that homosexuality is a plague of the great whore, and I can prove St John ChrysIcon mostom perfect validation of my claim with his and my writings.I was Chrismated by Abbot Gerasim with Bishops Maxims\’s blessing. But, then monks beat the hell out of me in rather insane attacks of verbal abuse. The Blanco monk, who was not arrested was accepted, He told me he was the one who put the holy myrr from the bogus icon on the cotton for the cheated pligrims The monks liked Mackay, but not me. Fr Herman railed at me for my anti abortion activism which was extensive in the late 80s and early 90s. I was never in the HOOM.
  • Carol Bacha
    commented 2016-10-28 00:42:46 -0500
    Yes, I was happy too that the directives of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the Western American Diocese of Bishop Maxim were asked to call the POLICE FIRST. I am also glad to read in this letter that Melanie Sakoda has looked into this so called ombudsman who may or may not be helpful as assigned by the Serbian Western American Diocese. In the past the Serbian Orthodox Church has provided cover for clergy who were being ousted from another jurisdiction. Recently Bishop Mitrophan was transferred to Canada. I have personally witnessed this bishop cover up alcoholic and sexual deviant and abusive behaviors by a monk priest who was previously transferred multiple times for drunkedness and allegations of abuse. Canada, has a law as we know from the charges of abuse that came out many years after the fact in the case of Seraphim Storhiem now retired bishop (2015) of Ottawa in Canada. We must all speak up on this HOLY Day of POKROV, Protection of the Theotokos as celebrated on the Greek Orthodox Calendar October 28. Slavic celebration and acknowledged Feast Day for Pokrov.org is October 1 (14). Let us survivors strengthen each other knowing that Christ heals all wounds by TRUTH and love! Make your calls and share the TRUTH about ABUSE where it happened and who did it. This is way to show the Love of God. We are NOT loving God when we hide the facts and the TRUTH OF ABUSE!
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