Resolution of 4th Degree Criminal Contempt Charge against Michael Fugee
Bergen County Prosecutor's Office
November 8, 2013
Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli announces that a resolution has been reached in the matter of State of New Jersey v. Michael Fugee. An investigation began in April of this year arising out of allegations that Michael Fugee had violated certain terms of a Judicial Order and Memorandum of Understanding which restricted his ministry to children. This investigation resulted in the issuance of five (5) Criminal Warrants dated May 17, 2013 charging Michael Fugee with several counts of criminal contempt by having attended multiple youth retreats and having heard confessions of children under the age of eighteen in violation of the judicial order. All charges were of the 4th degree, punishable by fine and a term of imprisonment from 0 to 18 months. As Fugee had no prior convictions, probation was likely upon conviction.
On November 1, 2013, by way of a binding agreement and court order issued by the Honorable Bonnie Mizdol, P.J.S.C. Acting Assignment Judge, Bergen County, Michael Fugee has admitted to committing acts of civil contempt of a judicial order. Specifically, Michael Fugee admitted that he violated the restriction placed upon him in the 2007 Judicial Order and its accompanying Memorandum of Understanding by having attended youth retreats and having heard confessions of children under the age of eighteen on multiple occasions from April 2010 through December of 2012.
As a penalty for his violations, Michael Fugee has agreed that he will seek and obtain laicization from the Roman Catholic Church. In non-Canon terms, he will be terminated from the priesthood which will be accomplished on his request through the Vatican. 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.
By way of this agreement, the State of New Jersey need no longer rely upon cooperation by the RCAN in supervising Michael Fugee. It has appeared, based on many public comments by Archbishop Myers, that the Church had no intention of monitoring Fugee any further and, based upon this office’s review of the Archdiocese compliance with the terms of the original MOU dated July 18, 2007 wherein the Church committed to monitor Fugee, 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, which had placed direct oversight responsibility of Michael Fugee upon the RCAN.
The penalties and restrictions in this new agreement with Michael Fugee will best serve the interests of the citizens of the State of New Jersey.