Prosecutors Had Concerns about Fugee's Work Long before Arrest, Report Says
By Devin McGinley
July 22, 2013
Fugee.png Michael Fugee arrest photo, courtesy of the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office
Prosecutors voiced concerns about the proximity to children of Michael Fugee, the pastor accused more than a decade ago of groping a Wyckoff teenager, long before he was arrested in May for allegedly violating a court order to cease his work with minors, according to records obtained by Northjersey.com
Fugee was imprisoned in 2003 on charges of sexual misconduct, but his conviction was overturned due to a judicial error in 2006. Prosecutors opted not to retry Fugee, instead allowing him to return to the church under an agreement between the court, the priest and the Archdiocese of Newark that he concede to a lifelong ban on ministering to children.
Fugee now faces charges that he violated the order on seven occasions by hearing confessions from minors around the state, and according to a report by Northjersey.com prosecutors were concerned as early as 2009, the year Fugee began working again under the auspices of the church, that the supervision of the priest by the archdiocese was inadequate.
In a brief filed in 2010, which blocked an attempt by Fugee to expunge his conviction and seal evidence pertaining to the case, prosecutors told the court that “Fugee and the Archdiocese recently teetered on a potential violation of his agreed to restrictions” with a 2009 assignment to St. Michael’s Hospital in Newark.
In that instance, prosecutors wrote, authorities had been alerted to the potential violation only through news reports. Fugee’s alleged contact with children this year was again brought to light by news reports that the priest had accompanied youth retreats at various central New Jersey churches.
Archbishop John Meyers told a Catholic newspaper last month that he regretted that the church had taken on the responsibility of supervising the priest, which he said was a function better served by civil authorities.
Meyers said in the interview that Fugee is awaiting trial from a rectory owned by the archdiocese, at a church with no associated school or youth programs.