The Star Ledger
on November 08, 2013 at 2:57 PM, updated November 08, 2013 at 3:39 PM
A Roman Catholic priest who was criminally charged with violating a court order to stay away from children earlier this year has agreed to his permanent removal from the priesthood and to never work in a position that places him in contact with minors.
The agreement between the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office and the the Rev. Michael Fugee resolves the criminal case against him without jail time. Fugee had been facing up to 18 months for multiple counts of violating a judicial order.
In its announcement, the prosecutor’s office also strongly criticized the Archdiocese of Newark, which had been required to supervise Fugee under a 2007 memorandum of understanding with the law enforcement agency. The memorandum was one condition of a deal that spared Fugee from retrial on charges of molesting a teenage boy.
“It has appeared, based on many public comments by Archbishop Myers, that the Church had no intention of monitoring Fugee any further and … it has not appeared that the Archdiocese made any significant effort to adhere to the terms of the MOU such that, at this juncture, we no longer have confidence in its ability as a signatory to honor the clear intent of the 2007 Memorandum of Understanding,” Prosecutor John Mollinelli said in a statement.
The Star-Ledger revealed in April that Fugee was attending youth retreats and hearing confessions from minors in violation of the agreement. The newspaper also found the archdiocese did little or nothing to monitor him. The stories sparked the prosecutor’s office investigation.
More from the prosecutor’s statement:
“So that the public is aware, this is a requirement that could never have been achieved even if Michael Fugee was convicted of 4th degree criminal contempt, as it is not believed that the American Justice System has such authority as a condition of probation or upon conviction.
“This is a requirement that will eliminate the threat of Michael Fugee, ever again, obtaining the trust of people through his clerical position nor using his ordained position as a Priest to exert improper contact with children.
“This is a requirement that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark (RCAN), did not nor would ever obtain. The agreement that has been reached forever bars Michael Fugee from holding himself out as a current or former priest or spiritual advisor. Most importantly, he is prohibited from working with children in any capacity.”
This post will be updated as new information becomes available.