James MacDonald’s mental health hearing on PTSD in assault case postponed

Pastor James MacDonald, who is the founding and senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in the Chicago area, speaks during the Resurgence 2013 conference in Seattle, November 6, 2013.
Pastor James MacDonald, who is the founding and senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in the Chicago area, speaks during the Resurgence 2013 conference in Seattle, November 6, 2013. | Resurgence Conference 2013

Harvest Bible Chapel founder James MacDonald won’t find out until June 4 if a mental health diversion program for his diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder will enable him to avoid a possible seven-year prison sentence for allegedly attacking a 59-year-old woman in a California parking lot last March. 

San Diego Superior Court Judge Enrique Camarena, said the prosecution requested a continuance Wednesday to get a mental health expert to evaluate MacDonald’s claim, The Roys Report said.

Camarena also noted that MacDonald’s attorneys didn't have a treatment plan to present to the court for his PTSD, which was caused by the reporting of Christian investigative journalist Julie Roys.

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A judge ruled last October that MacDonald was eligible for the mental health diversion program based on a prima facie showing from his attorneys that he is both an eligible and suitable candidate for the program.

Dr. Shannae Anderson, a clinical psychologist who diagnosed McDonald’s PTSD, said his felony assault and battery of Barbara Bass in March 2023 was a function of his PTSD which was first diagnosed in 2020 and as recently as 2023.

San Diego County Superior Court Judge Carlos Varela said that before the 63-year-old MacDonald's attack on Bass, which Assistant District Attorney Alexis Lamprea said caused the woman to be hospitalized for 21 days, he was an upstanding husband, father, and grandfather "with no record, no criminal history."

He said even though MacDonald was ousted in 2019 as senior pastor of his once 15,000-member multi-campus church and accused of being a gun-toting bully who once allegedly sought to hire a hitman to commit murder, MacDonald had "basically done everything" right and was a victim of his church and critics.

Reading from a report Dr. Anderson submitted to the court, she stated that Roys’ reporting was part of the reason MacDonald developed PTSD and his attack on Bass was a "function of PTSD."

"It is the examiner's professional opinion that James' reaction is a function of PTSD. And he's talking about his reaction to the alleged offense or his reaction when this incident happened. Once the woman in the car in front of him got out of the car and moved towards him in an angry and agitated state, the years of traumatic memories of being vilified by Julie Roys rushed back to him and triggered a fight or flight response," Anderson's report said. "Feeling powerless and misunderstood and essentially trapped in his truck, he got out of the vehicle to fight back against his accuser."

Roys wrote in an op-ed Wednesday that MacDonald’s alleged PTSD “is a bit too convenient” and her suspicion was confirmed this week when the former megachurch pastor invited her to meet through his lawyer this week.

“In a text, my lawyer wrote: ‘Just talked to MacDonald’s lawyer. His client proposes 2 meetings: The first meeting will be off the record for you 2 to sit down to see if you’re on the same page. The second meeting would be on the record, but you get to ask the questions,’” Roys wrote.

“Apparently, MacDonald thinks he has some evidence that will convince me of his innocence in some regard. Yet the time to talk was years ago, when I sought comment from MacDonald for the articles I was writing,” she explained.

“MacDonald claims I triggered his PTSD yet invites me to not just one—but two face-to-face meetings! Either he’s a glutton for punishment, or he’s lying about his PTSD. Based on MacDonald’s past behavior, I’m leaning toward the latter,” Roys added. “Either way, I have no desire to be in the same room with a man who argues he can assault a woman with impunity.”

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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