Hearing Focuses on Macrae Touching

By Nancy Meersman
Union Leader
July 16, 1996

Lawrence Carnevale, 26, yesterday described the emotional discomfort he felt when Gordon MacRae -- then a priest at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Hampton and a man he believed was his dear friend and confidant -- touched him and kissed him in ways he later found out were against the law.

Judith Patterson, the clinical social worker who was Carnevale's therapist at the time, had already testified as a witness for Carnevale in his civil suit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester yesterday that ambivalence is a hallmark of sexual abuse cases.

"When youngsters have been hurt in this way they often have conflicting emotions -- love and hate coexist," she said.

Patterson said it is typical that Carnevale, who was 13 when MacRae had singled him out for kissing and fondling, could be so angry that he put MacRae's name in capital letters at the top of a "hit list." Yet, he still yearned to renew the friendship and didn't want to hurt MacRae by reporting him to authorities.

Carnevale is one of four plaintiffs seeking unspecified damages from the Catholic church and MacRae for causing them extreme emotional harm. MacRae is serving up to 67 years in prison for sexually assaulting adolescent boys in New Hampshire between 1978 and 1983.

Yesterday was the second day of what is expected to be a three-day hearing before Judge Carol Ann Conboy in Hillsborough County Superior Court.

The purpose of the hearing is to determine if Carnevale and the other complainants, the brothers David, Thomas and John Grover, then of Keene, filed their lawsuits on time.

Lawyers for the church have asked the court to dismiss the case, arguing that the statute of limitations -- six years after the final sexual assault -- has run out.

Carnevale testified that not until 1993 when being treated by a psychiatrist did he realize the repercussions MacRae's actions would have in his life.

Judge Conboy noted that the burden of proof is on the plaintiffs to show that the discovery rule applies in the case.

Cross-examining Carnevale, attorney for the diocese James Higgins wrote on a large sheet of paper the dates when Carnevale believed was the last time MacRae assaulted him (August 1982), when Carnevale told school counselors about what MacRae did, and when child protective investigators became involved.

When originally questioned by his own attorney, Peter Gleichman of Portsmouth, Carnevale often replied, "I don't remember" when asked of details concerning his childhood and later life. He could not remember, for instance, where he met his former wife who, he said, "left me because of my problems."

Asked if he needed further psychiatric care, Carnevale said he probably did. "You can tell, can't you? I'm not like everyone else here. Something is wrong with me."


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