NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The New Jersey priest who attended youth retreats and heard confessions from youngsters in defiance of a lifetime ban has resigned.
The Rev. Michael Fugee submitted his request and it was promptly accepted by Newark Archbishop John Myers on Thursday evening.
Fugee remains a priest but no longer can say Mass, perform sacramental work or represent himself as an active member of the clergy, archdiocese spokesman Jim Goodness told The Star-Ledger of Newark.
The 52-year-old was convicted in 2003 of fondling a teenage boy, however, that verdict was vacated because of judicial error.
Fugee 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.
The archdiocese insisted that Fugee was supervised when he was around teens.
Calls have also mounted for Archbishop Myers to resign after it was revealed that Fugee had engaged in youth activities.
State Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Englewood) accused the Newark Archdiocese of staging a cover-up, saying Fugee was “shuffled around in various positions by Archbishop Myers.”
“He fully knew – Archbishop Myers – what the agreement was,” Huttle said.
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.
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