Bergen Prosecutor Will Study Remarks by Disgraced Priest

By Jim Norman and Jeff Green
February 10, 2014

Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said Sunday he would continue to monitor the comments of a confessed child-abusing Roman Catholic priest for evidence that he may have violated his agreement to never again profess his innocence.

The Rev. Michael Fugee, who has a history of violating a court order that he stay away from children, and of recanting a previous confession, agreed he would not deny his guilt as part of a deal last October to avoid prosecution and a possible prison sentence.

However, on Oct. 31, the day after he signed the agreement, he told Michael and Amy Lenehan, two of his most ardent supporters, that he had not repeatedly molested a teenager over a two-year period, but had only confessed because "my attorney said that I was sure to go to jail," Michael Lenehan told The Record.

"The involvement of the Lenehans continues to trouble me," Molinelli said in a telephone interview on Sunday. "I would prefer it if they would just stay out of it and keep quiet. I don't know what they are trying to do, but I don't think they are helping Fugee."

The prosecutor added: "Our office knows a lot more about this case than the Lenehans do. I wish they would just be quiet and mind their own business."

Fugee's lawyer, John Whipple, had told The Record that whatever Fugee told the Lenehans on Oct. 31 did not violate his agreement to remain silent, because the agreement had not yet been filed in court and approved by a judge.

"I'll have a look at that over the next day or two," Molinelli said. "Whipple might have a point. But I can't base any action on what I read in the newspaper, and I doubt the Lenehans will be willing to cooperate with me on what Fugee might have said to them."

Molinelli also said he was mindful of the possible difference between what might have been a private conversation between Fugee and his friends and a recantation of his confession of guilt.

"It's not like he came out and made a public statement," the prosecutor said. "But we continue to monitor him and have been monitoring him to make sure he abides by the agreement."

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