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James MacDonald Posts Videos Asserting Innocence; Files Lawsuit Against Attorney Hired by Harvest

By Julie Roys
James MacDonald Ron Duitsman
James MacDonald appears in a video with former Harvest Bible Chapel elder chairman, Ron Duitsman, asserting he's innocent of wrongdoing.

Disgraced celebrity pastor, James MacDonald, has filed a lawsuit accusing a Chicago attorney and accountants hired by Harvest Bible Chapel of engaging in a “smear campaign.” 

MacDonald also has posted two videos online with former Harvest elder board chairman, Ron Duitsman, asserting MacDonald is innocent of wrongdoing.

The attorney named as a defendant in MacDonald’s suit, Sally Wagenmaker of Wagenmaker and Oberly LLC, conducted a financial review of Harvest in 2019 and concluded that MacDonald had misused millions in church funds.

Named in the lawsuit is not only Wagenmaker and her Chicago law firm— Wagenmaker and Oberly LLC—but also Schecher Dokken Kanter, a Minnesota accounting firm.

According to the Daily Herald, the lawsuit, filed Nov. 4, accuses Wagenmaker, her firm, and the accountants of knowingly publishing false information so Harvest could gain an advantage in its arbitration with MacDonald.

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“Wagenmaker, Todd, and HBC agreed that they would seek to delay responding to MacDonald’s arbitration demand until after they published the defamatory information against him, and that they would aggressively pursue counterclaims against him in the arbitration once they had publicly destroyed his reputation,” the lawsuit states.

The suit also alleges that Harvest’s elders disqualified MacDonald from public ministry in November 2019 to similarly impact the outcome of the arbitration.

Harvest settled its arbitration with MacDonald in mid-August. As part of the settlement, Harvest gave MacDonald all digital and physical assets of Walk in the Word (MacDonald’s broadcast ministry), including more than $2.5 million in deferred compensation, cash, and insurance money.

Apparently dissatisfied with the settlement, MacDonald earlier this week published a statement accusing Harvest of stealing $6.6 million from Walk in the Word and running a “campaign to destroy my reputation.”

I have repeatedly reached out to Harvest for comment about MacDonald’s accusations, but the church has not responded. I also reached out to Wagenmaker seeking comment but was told she would not be available until early next week.

MacDonald’s Videos Asserting Innocence

In two videos posted to Instagram on Thursday, MacDonald and former elder board chair, Ron Duitsman, continued to make the case against Wagenmaker and Harvest.

Duitsman is one of two elders who, with MacDonald and Harvest, brought a defamation lawsuit against me and the authors of the Elephants Debt and their wives in 2018. That lawsuit was eventually  dropped. And about two months after Duitsman resigned, Harvest’s elders apologized to me and the other defendants, calling the lawsuit a “sinful violation of 1 Corinthians 6.”

Attorney Sally Wagenmaker
Attorney Sally Wagenmaker

According to Wagenmaker’s 2019 review, Harvest maintained two private checking accounts for MacDonald, which allowed him to spend millions on personal expenses. The review said that these private accounts were “controlled indirectly by MacDonald and directly by HBC’s former CFO, COO, and an executive assistant.”

Wagenmaker’s findings are consistent with what two former Harvest staff—Bob Langdon, former financial director of Harvest Bible Fellowship, and Alan Tsao, former Harvest comptroller—told me in 2018. Both said Harvest maintained a “black budget”—a portion of the budget that was hidden from all but top church staff and Harvest’s Executive Committee.

However, MacDonald claims in the video that any money MacDonald spent from these accounts was approved by multiple staff. “I went to such great lengths to get approvals,” MacDonald said. “Every time we flew a plane, there was an approval.”

MacDonald then asks Duitsman if the accounts could rightly be called “secret,” and Duitsman responds, “Absolutely not. . . . Total B.S.”

In the video, MacDonald and Duitsman also give their version of some of the events of the past several years. These include:

  • Dissolution of Harvest Bible Fellowship

According to MacDonald and Duitsman, MacDonald dissolved Harvest Bible Fellowship (HBF) suddenly because managing the coalition of approximately 150 churches was “too much.”

However, according to David Wisen, a former HBF pastor who participated in a financial review of HBF in 2017, the issue was theft: Harvest reportedly had inappropriately taken at least $1.8 million from HBF.

In texts I obtained through a subpoena in February 2019, MacDonald admitts to another former HBF pastor, Scott Pierre, that Harvest had misused hundreds of thousands of HBF funds.

  • Letter of “Unconditional Support”

On December 18, 2018—five days after I published my exposé of Harvest in World Magazine—many elders of Harvest Bible Chapel signed a letter of “unconditional support” for James MacDonald. Earlier that day, I had also published texts by Randy Williams, a former Harvest elder and chairman of the executive committee, accusing Harvest of trying “to run a cult and control the masses.”

Two of the signatories of the “unconditional support” letter, former elder Dan George and Mike Dunwoody, have since publicly apologized for signing the letter.

In the video, MacDonald emphasizes that the idea for the letter did not come from either him or Duitsman, but from another elder. Duitsman says he believed the letter was “a really good idea.”

  • Staff Letters to the Elder Board

Prior to Harvest firing MacDonald, six scathing letters from former Harvest staff were given to the elders of Harvest. (These letters documented numerous examples of bullying and vulgarities by MacDonald, lavish spending, and a pattern of deception.

However, both MacDonald and Duitsman claim in the video that the letters had “no substance.”

As an example, Duitsman recounts that one of the letters claimed that MacDonald had once demanded the church pay to fly him home in a private jet from Haiti. (This allegation is in a letter by former HBC Coordinator of Mission and Outreach Sandy Song, which is the only letter of the six that has not been published. I have read the letter, however, and remember the story.)

MacDonald claims that the church turned down his request for the private plane because it was too expensive. Duitsman, who owns a private plane company, said he paid for the private plane to fly MacDonald home from Haiti, not Harvest.

  • “Hot Mic” Recording

On February 12, 2019, radio personality, Mancow Muller, aired excerpts of a vulgar “hot mic” recording of James MacDonald. That night, Harvest fired MacDonald.

In the video, Duitsman claims that the recording is “taken out of context and not true.” Yet he admits he’s never listened to the full recording.

Similarly, MacDonald asserts that the recording Muller aired was “edited to make me say something I never said.”

Responding to MacDonald’s accusation, Muller, who’s also been sued by MacDonald, said: “Are MacDonald’s pants on fire? It seems like this guy just can’t stop lying. That recording is EXACTLY the way James MacDonald talks and sounds with people that know him. I mean REALLY know him.”

Mancow added that the recording was edited “but nothing was changed. He said what he said.”

The full “hot mic” recording is available online (see below). In the recording, MacDonald jokes about planting child porn on the computer of a media executive and falsely alleges I’m having an affair with a former editor from Christianity Today.  

  • Duitsman’s Role in MacDonald’s Firing & His Resignation

At the time of MacDonald’s firing, Duitsman was still chairman of Harvest’s elder board. However, he resigned suddenly four days later.

Duitsman said in the video that he resigned because the statement the elders wanted him to read to the congregation the following Sunday was “full of lies. It’s full of spin.”

In the video, it sounds as though the alleged “spin” concerned MacDonald and the accusations against him. Duitsman also says that he believes the elders’ public disqualification of MacDonald months later “was totally unconscionable.”

However, an email that was leaked to me before Duitsman’s resignation in 2019 tells a different story. In it, Duitsman objects to elders, like himself, being blamed for MacDonald’s misdeeds and being forced to resign.

“I saw the statement yesterday and do feel that all of us resigning at any fixed time is folly and it seems we are being punished for the acts of someone who was our spiritual leader and was misleading us in a very unqualifying way,” Duitsman wrote. “I refused to read the statement and still refuse, to mislead the congregation with spin is not proper.”

Ron Duitsman’s Feb. 16, 2019, email:



Videos of James MacDonald with Ron Duitsman:

Complete “Hot Mic” Recording:



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40 thoughts on “James MacDonald Posts Videos Asserting Innocence; Files Lawsuit Against Attorney Hired by Harvest”

    1. how do i get my $30,000 back in a class action suit now that it has been determined that this lunatic used these monies for his own personal lavish lifestyle?! I’d like to add my name to the list…..

  1. I hope Wagenmaker lets this go to trial, as tempting as it would be for her to seek a dismissal, so that the whole world can see in the public court records once and for all just how corrupt and greedy MacDonald is.

    1. If you’ve been paying attention at all to this entire series of posts for the past couple years, you already are aware that James MacDonald was the black sheep of the fold. Bad for such a prominent former Christian leader, firmly placing him in the category of AntiChrist. Which raises the question, how does such an obvious AntiChrist rise to such a high position of Christian authority?

  2. So much gaslighting in these videos. One of the things that bothers me the most is how James MacDonald is manipulating Ron Duitsman for James MacDonald’s benefit. This is completely antithetical to the calling with which a pastor is entrusted. This is obscene.

  3. Imagine being so far gone that your best idea is just to sue/rinse/repeat.

    Poor fella can’t see that it doesn’t matter how many confused old Kool-Aid drinkers he can talk into appearing with him on camera to speak about the baseless persecution (lol) he’s endured at Harvest’s hands; JM continues to paint a far clearer picture of who he really is by trying to take everyone under the sun to court.


    1. Christine Schmidt

      He is a very sick man . How his wife goes along with all this…oh wait, million dollar homes, pricey cars, vacations ,etc. It’s not worth it Kathy!! You’re as much to blame as he is. Repent .

  4. The sound and editing alarms me, what else was put it, enhanced, cut, altered. Ron seems to be under a spell – can he seriously not see what is happening?? How can he have a meaningful opinion without hearing or reading evidence. He simply doesn’t want to believe bc that implicates him. Will it ever stop? James, just move on and let people recover. Your selfish motives are clear to those not under your spell.

  5. Maybe its just me. I am no fashion guru. Kinda strange to see an older dude in a maybe midlife biking crisis: Is indoors, in all black, black stocking cap, black leather jacket, doing a video about ministry. A little oddly disconcerting, I’d kinda wonder what he’s going for there, an anti-establishment hip funky cool or something? But hey, looks can be deceiving. Clue me in somebody.

    1. I cannot believe how far this is going. As a former Harvest Bible Chapel attendee (Canada), I was grateful, after a visit to Harvest U, to have our pastor in Oakville and not the founder here as my leader.

      I feel it is time to seriously and persistently pray more than ever before. May God be glorified, may mouths be silenced, may His church be protected from wolves, may it just stop…now.

    2. A person his age dressed like that sets my teeth on edge & also loses all credibility with me. I’m a female, about the same age as he. I enjoy dressing fashionably but tastefully, I don’t want to look like I’m trying too hard.

      1. Totally agree, I always say as soon as a pastor starts trying to look cool look out! They start fallin, no joke I know of at least 4 in my circles. Not sure what happens full of themselves I don’t know but it is bizarre!
        What James is trying to do is disgusting, I also have someone close to me who witnessed many of the things that they are accusing him of! When does it end with him!?

    3. He is clearly very image conscious — even down to the way he accessorizes. Expensive clothes, probably all designer labels. Seems to be all set up to be a new addition to the word of faith movement. No doubt he won’t feel satisfied until he’s back to earning over a million a year.

      Even if he is 100% right in everything he said, there is still no justification for the lawsuits. An honorable man would recognize his role in the whole affair (which he kind of half hints at) and move on. He’s still worth millions of dollars, and could live a very comfortable life on his pension (far more comfortable than the vast majority of Americas).

  6. Sidebar: It may be a hint of sycophant church leadership when the senior pastor is literally streaming lighter fluid onto an open fire as part of a media broadcast sermon illustration. No staffer had the courage to say?: “Very bad dangerous idea, Pastor James, please don’t risk burning/blowing up the front row.”

    1. If you’re talking about his current ministry — it’s not clear he even has a staff. His website is basically his resume and an indication he’s open to speaking engagement — for a significant fee, no doubt.

      Whatever he does in future, you can bet it’s not going to involve ceding oversight to an elder council or some other body or group of people. He is not going to take that chance again.

  7. Imagine being so narcissistic and hopped up on your own power and control that you will do anything to stay relevant. This isn’t about JM’s reputation as much as it is not having his name being spoken. In the mind of a self absorbed, narcissistic leader, “any press is better than no press.” He can’t stand not being center stage in the spotlight. Every “performer” seeks that and when it’s gone they try to claw their way back.
    I wish for the sake of the church, and based on the damage that he’s done to so many people, he would go away quietly. But, the narcissistic demon inside of him won’t be silenced. You might want to stock up on pens and paper, Julie. Your days of writing about the exploits of JM have only begun.

  8. Anything to note in the absence of any support from JMac for the Jeff Smth allegations? Seems odd that he piles on smaller issues, but doesn’t support the $6.6mm one. Is there more to the story around campus property ownership?

  9. Where is WWJD from JM? There was more Christ-like repentance in Jimmy Swaggert’s teary “I have sinned”, than is seen in McDonald’s “l will sue”. Too much evidence (the mouths of two or three +++ witnesses) of JM’s non-biblical actions to overlook here; yet, not one glimpse of conviction of sin, nor repentance from James. Can his love of $$$ make him so blind to his need for Christlike response/testimony?

  10. It seems MacDonald is pursuing the ‘bad publicity is better than no publicity’ angle. Pity that no one is able to stop this train wreck that seems to have no end, and likely won’t until he reaches some modicum of remorse and repentance.

  11. The devil can try to impersonate Santa Claus in Black but his identity will always be revealed. Someone who posed as the Lord’s Servant is so sold out to his arrogance and anger that he continues to dig deeper holes for himself as he dishonors the Name above all Names who will judge him in righteousness. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God.” No repentance, no humility. Tragic.

  12. And what is with the “man in black look?” Stocking cap, leather coat, rings and a gut…super cool. Someone tell him he is not a hipster.

    1. You forgot to mention the full arm tattoo! I can’t quite make sense of the look. Santa Claus meets the Hell’s Angel’s. A complete embarrassment. Surely MacDonald has enough to retire comfortably now?

      1. More than comfortable. Very likely he’s a 1%er. Problem is, people like that can never have enough money or power. He’s still bitter he lost control of his church and won’t rest until he’s back on top and earning millions a year again.

  13. Church discipline is supposed to be about restoration but he had no issue in excommunicating 3 elders without doing so himself. Then when the elder board who were trained by him does the same thing to him, he reacts like a pagan and sues them contrary to I Cor.6.
    The elder Board has not learned anything either. What they then do is hand him the means to sue them in a secular court instead of having him sign an agreement with a hold harmless clause.
    More proof that this is not a church.

  14. A vulgar, narcissicistic, financially sleazy leader who lost his position of power and can only resort to gaslighting and a series of baseless lawsuits. Deplorable behavior that faithful followers of Jesus should reject.
    Wait, does this comment belong on the MacDonald post or the one about Trump?

  15. James sues everyone who has crossed him because that is the compulsion of an extreme narcissist. He must punish everyone who is a perceived enemy. Its all about him, and never was about Jesus.

  16. If he rides a Harley, that might explain some of his “fashion” choices. Owning a Harley is often much more than owning a motorcycle-it is a kind of a lifestyle.

    1. Vance, mcdonald is a poser. Riding a Harley I’m sure makes him feel a part of the team, although I would think he’s not.

      I love Harley’s and riding on them. I’m the passenger and not the driver. Safer for everyone on the road that I am not the driver…smile!!!

  17. I am speechless with the cont’d endorsement of ex- Harvest ldrs co-signing mcdonald as a victim. STOP the madness mcdonald, members are still healing from your thievery of our trust. I also do not only blame mcdonald, the ldrs who allowed his lies for YEARS also need to go away!!!

  18. The Christian mediators decided, pretty much, that macdonald was right all along, in regard to witw.

    Hey, I don’t like macdonald either, but that outcome says a lot.

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