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California Judge Rules James MacDonald is Eligible for Mental Health Diversion Due to PTSD

By Julie Roys
james macdonald assault
An officer in Coronado, Calif., directs traffic at the scene of an alleged assault involving disgraced megachurch pastor James MacDonald. (Photos: Coronado Police Department / Via social media)

A California judge today ruled that disgraced pastor James MacDonald is eligible for a mental health diversion in his felony assault case, stemming from an incident in March, which left a 59-year-old woman hospitalized.

After hearing arguments that MacDonald suffered from PTSD, San Diego County Superior Court Judge Carlos Varela ordered a contested hearing for February 28 to determine if a mental health diversion is appropriate. If granted, the charges against MacDonald would be dismissed, pending successful completion of a treatment program.

As reported previously by The Roys Report (TRR), MacDonald allegedly struck a car parked in front of him on March 22, while trying to parallel park on Orange Avenue in Coronado. The occupant of the car, later identified as 59-year-old Barbara Bass, got out of her car to talk to MacDonald. Then MacDonald “jumped out of his truck and attacked the victim,” according to Coronado Police.

Today, Assistant District Attorney Alexsis Lamprea stated that the injuries sustained by the victim required her to be in the hospital for 21 days. Lamprea added that only recently has Bass been able to walk without a walker or cane.

MacDonald’s attorney, Marc Carlos, claimed in today’s hearing that MacDonald responded the way he did because he suffered from PTSD due to “some really bad reporting,” “internet trolling,” and “constant harassing” online.

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Carlos said a psychological evaluation, led by a “Dr. Anderson,” showed MacDonald suffered from PTSD from at least 2020, but possibly as early as 2017. (A Dr. Shannae Anderson, a clinical psychologist in Virginia and California, was listed on the conference call of today’s proceedings.)

Judge Varela read a section of Anderson’s report out loud during the hearing, which referred specifically to TRR’s reporting on MacDonald.

“It is the examiners professional opinion that James’ reaction is a function of PTSD,” Judge Varela stated. “. . . ‘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. Feeling powerless and misunderstood and essentially trapped in his truck, he got out of the vehicle to fight back against his accuser.’ So again, that is the analysis of Dr. Anderson.”

Carlos presented MacDonald as a model citizen. In his 62 years of living, he’s “had no incidence of violence, no incidence of any type of criminal history, no substance abuse, domestic violence—nothing,” the attorney said.

Referring to MacDonald’s 30-plus years at Harvest Bible Chapel in the Chicago area, Carlos stated that MacDonald used to pastor a “very, very large congregation.” Carlos added that three to four million people used to watch MacDonald’s various ministries online and he has “basically done everything right.”

Carlos made no mention of the numerous allegations of bullying, spiritual abuse, deception, misuse of finances, or sexual misconduct, which led Harvest to fire MacDonald.

Instead, Carlos claimed, “All the things I’m talking about were taken away as a result of some underhanded dealings with other church members.”

James MacDonald Kathy
James and Kathy MacDonald leave the Superior Court of California in Chula Vista on Oct. 25, 2023.

“A willful and callous act”

Assistant District Attorney Lamprea argued that MacDonald’s PTSD was not a “significant factor in the crime committed.” Instead, she said the crime was “a willful and callous act that the defendant thought about.”

Lamprea noted that the victim got out of her car to keep MacDonald from leaving the scene. Lamprea said that’s when MacDonald got out of his car and lunged at the victim, causing them both to fall to the ground, and the victim to sustain “significant injuries.”

Lamprea said she couldn’t comment on whether PTSD could be caused by things said online but would plan to bring in an expert if the case proceeded to a contested hearing. However, she noted that the pushback MacDonald has received online was due to his own behavior and “the defendant’s way of interacting with members of his community.”

Lamprea did not mention any specifics concerning MacDonald’s past behavior.

She did, however, note that MacDonald had been in treatment for mental health issues multiple times, which have “been unsuccessful.”

“The people think that’s very indicative of the defendant’s amenability to treatment in this case,” she added.

“An unreasonable risk of danger”?

According to Judge Varela, a defendant is eligible for a mental health diversion if four criteria are met.

Judge Carlos Varela
Judge Carlos Varela

The first is whether the defendant has been diagnosed with a mental disorder, which MacDonald clearly has.

The second is whether that disorder played a “significant factor” in the commission of a crime. And according to the California statute, the disorder is considered a significant factor unless there’s “clear and convincing evidence otherwise,” which Varela said he had not seen.

Thirdly, the defendant has to consent to diversion and agree to treatment, which MacDonald has.

And lastly, the defendant has to show that he doesn’t “pose an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety.”

“We have an individual who . . . hasn’t been presented with any prior incidents of violence, prior incidents of this type of behavior, that would make him ineligible, based on that factor,” Varela said.

After Judge Varela’s ruling, TRR spoke with Eric “Mancow” Muller, who’s embroiled in a defamation lawsuit brought by MacDonald. Muller also is one of two people who claim that MacDonald told him he wanted to hire a hitman. The other is Emanuel “Manny” Bucur, MacDonald’s former bodyguard and a marine.

 “I personally believe James MacDonald, based on my personal knowledge, is very dangerous,” Muller said. “I wish I could have mentioned in that hearing how I had gone to the police and informed them MacDonald had wanted me to hire someone to commit murder. And my friend, Manny the Marine . . . he’s said the same thing.”



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49 Responses

  1. Of course, the next time MacDonald flies off the handle and attacks someone, that person may exercise their 2nd Amendment rights and put him down like a rabid canine.

  2. Someone give James a rifle. Give him a few hundred rounds of ammo. Send him to the Ukraine-Russia war for one yr. Let him know what PTSD is all about.
    I used to help park cars on Sundays at one of the “campuses”. At that time, a security guard told me that j. Mac drove down parking ramp to exit ramp in a very unsafe speed. Realizing the gate was still down, j. Mac yelled, “Memorize the plate!”
    to the guard. I guess it’s really important for a grown man to have personal license plates.
    As far as his “bullying” antics & childish behavior; I just keep wondering. How does one man get away with ALL this? Just one little man?
    Come judgement day, none of us will have an excuse. Not even this little man…

  3. He’s been a problem for years and if people tried to hold him accountable they would get punched 10x harder. He surrounded himself with a pack of wolves.

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