NJ Priest Accused of Sexual Misconduct Heard Confessions from Minors at Lake Hopatcong, Violated Judicial Order
By Travis Tormey posted in Sex Crimes on Tuesday, May 21, 2013
This morning, Rev. Michael Fugee made his first appearance in court on charges that he violated a court-sanctioned ban on working with children.
In 2007, Mr. Fugee entered into an agreement with Bergen County prosecutors that barred him from working with children in any capacity as long as he remained a priest. This agreement allowed Mr. Fugee to avoid retrial on charges that he groped a teenage boy.
In recent weeks, a series of articles in the Star-Ledger detailed Mr. Fugee’s attendance at youth retreats and other events involving minors. This prompted a probe by Bergen County investigators, who found that Mr. Fugee had heard confessions from minors at youth retreats along Lake Hopatcong in April 2010 and at the Kateri Environmental Center in Marlboro in both September 2010 and September 2012. Investigators also learned that Mr. Fugee had heard confessions from minors in Bayville, Paramus, and Rochelle Park.
On Monday, members of the special victims unit of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office arrested Mr. Fugee at St. Antoninus Parish in Newark.
Today, while appearing in Bergen County Superior Court for a hearing, Mr. Fugee made no comments and did not have an attorney present.
Mr. Fugee has been charged with seven counts of contempt of a judicial order. If a grand jury indicts Mr. Fugee on the charges, he could be looking at serious jail time. Contempt of court is set forth in N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9, which grants law enforcement officers probable cause to arrest a person who purposely or knowingly disobeys a judicial order. Contempt can be classified as a fourth degree crime, which would expose Mr. Fugee to up to 18 months in prison. This is usually how the charge is classified when a person violates a domestic violence order. If the charge is classified as a disorderly persons offense, Mr. Fugee could still be looking at up to six (6) months in jail.
At present, Mr. Fugee’s bail has been set at $25,000.00 with a 10 percent option.
For more information, see the NJ.com article entitled “NJ Priest Charged with Violating Ban on Working with Kids Appears in Court.”