Parishioner doubts prostitution, drug charges against priest

Eugene Police arrested Daniel James Mackay and arrested him on charges of Purchasing Sex with a Minor, Sexual Misconduct, Patronizing a Prostitute, Endangering the Welfare of a Minor, Unlawful Possess Cocaine and Using a Minor in a Control Substance Offense. (Lane County Jail mugshot; SBG file photo)

EUGENE, Ore. - Tim Hershiser is the official bell ringer at St. John the Wonderworker Orthodox Church in Eugene where Daneil Mackay serves as a priest.

Police arrested Mackay on Wednesday on accusations involving a juvenile prostitute and cocaine.

"I'm sure everyone is praying for him right now," Hershiser said.

He is skeptical of the charges.

"This is probably, you know, something that happens," he said. "You know it happens periodically because we deal with, you, know homeless, and there's prostitutes. That's what the church is for: it's to help the, you know, the down trodden, needy, all of that."

Police booked Mackay on charges of Purchasing Sex with a Minor, Sexual Misconduct, Patronizing a Prostitute, Endangering the Welfare of a Minor, Unlawful Possession of Cocaine and Using a Minor in a Controlled Substance Offense.

"Circumstances lined up just right, you know, one of those perfect storms," Hershiser said.

He spoke with Mackay recently, and he said Mackay told him the alleged drugs are actually incense.

"When I first heard the story I didn't know now how could they get possesion of drugs?" Hershiser said. "There's various types of incense here, and he had one of these little bags with him."

Mackway taught 3 classes at Lane Community College in the writing department, according to Dawn Dewolf, the vice president of academic and student affairs.

He has been on staff since 2008.

Dewolf said LCC has a thorough hiring process.

"We follow all state and federal regulations," she said.

Mackay is not teaching class as the investigation unfolds.

"That's always unfortunate when these things happen," Dewolf said, "and we feel for everybody involved."

She said the college's focus now is on its students.

"We are going to provide them with the support they need," Dewolf said, "and just make sure that his classes are covered until a decision has been made about what to do."

Eugene Police declined to comment further on the case Friday after putting out a press release on the arrest Thursday evening.

Mackay is scheduled to appear in court on November 17.

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