Investigative journalist Julie Roys says she hopes Harvest Bible Chapel founder James MacDonald repents, stops "hurting people" and restores broken relationships in light of an assault charge that could land him in prison for seven years.
MacDonald was arrested in March and charged with assault of a 59-year-old woman after a car wreck in a parking lot. He pleaded not guilty. Police say the woman sustained serious injuries. "Witnesses came to the victim's aid and stopped the man from leaving the area," police said.
"It's shocking that any grown man would allegedly attack a woman in broad daylight on a busy street in Coronado. That's shocking in and of itself," said Roys, who has written multiple stories over the years about allegations against MacDonald. Roys made the comments in an interview with The Christian Post.
"But I will say from the moment that I started reporting on Harvest, before I'd even published, just when I was in the investigation stage, I had numerous people close to James MacDonald, or at least at one time, who had been close to James MacDonald, either elders or staff, who warned me. They said, 'Julie, watch your back. He is violent and he's dangerous.'"
MacDonald, she said, has not displayed true repentance.
"I would just hope, and it really is my hope, that he will come to a place of repentance. Clearly, he has deep problems," Roys told The Christian Post. "But unless he repents before God, I really do see him as a Saul who is completely destructing because he cannot come to the point of confessing before God his sin and receiving forgiveness and truly repenting and going in the opposite direction. Which, for James MacDonald, would be admitting that he has completely disqualified himself from pastoring.
"Go live a quiet life and try to make amends with people," Roys added. "That will be my prayer for James because he is not going to have emotional or mental health until he does that, and until he makes his peace with God, and he makes his peace with the people that he's harmed. And that would be just unbelievably difficult for him to do, for anybody to do, who had done the things that he's done."
Meanwhile, Roys said she has no "ill will towards" MacDonald.
"I do want him to stop. I want him to stop preying on other human beings," Roys said. "I would like him to stop hurting people. But to me, it's not personal. However, I do have a security system on my home now. And I got it because of James MacDonald."
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.