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Calls Mount To Have Newark Archbishop Fired Over Once-Accused Pedophile Priest

Rev. Michael Fugee Ended Up On Youth Retreats After Conviction Was Tossed
Rev. Michael Fugee

The Rev. Michael Fugee of the Newark Archdiocese was convicted of molesting a boy, but the conviction was overturned. (Credit: CBS 2)

COLTS NECK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey state assemblywoman is among those calling for Newark Archbishop John Myers to be held accountable, after a once-accused pedophile priest suddenly popped up at Colts Neck church youth retreats.

The Rev. Michael Fugee, a Newark Archdiocese priest, was convicted in 2003 of molesting a boy. The conviction was overturned by an appeals court, CBS 2’s Lou Young reported earlier this week.

Fugee, 52, entered into an agreement with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office to avoid retrial on the abuse conviction after the groping incident six years ago. The agreement required Fugee never again to have unsupervised contact with children under the age of 18.

But Fugee later ended up attending overnight teen retreats and hearing teens’ confessions at St. Mary’s Parish in Colts Neck.

State Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Englewood) accused the Newark Archdiocese of staging a cover-up, 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reported Wednesday.

“He was shuffled around in various positions by Archbishop Myers. He fully knew – Archbishop Myers – what the agreement was,” Huttle said.

Huttle, a Roman Catholic herself, said the cover-up goes all the way to the top. Calls have mounted to have Archbishop Myers fired.

But the archdiocese insisted that Fugee was supervised when he was around teens.

Mark Crawford, director of the New Jersey chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Myers must be held accountable.

“It is dangerous, reckless, and absolutely unacceptable,” he said.

The revelations about Fugee’s past also alarmed teens who attended retreats with him.

“I’m upset that I wasn’t told, and I’m upset that they’re lying about it,” youth group member Samara Franklin said earlier this week.

The agreement regarding contact with children in particular raises the issue of confession.

Fugee’s friend, Monsignor Paul Bochicchio, told CBS 2’s Young he did not see a problem.

“When he’s hearing confessions, you know, if a teenager happens to come to him, he’s not going to turn around and say, ‘I’m sorry, you know, I can’t hear your confession,’” Bochicchio said.

A spokesman for Archbishop Myers said earlier this week that his office is continuing to look into the matter.

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