How strongly does the Catholic Church believe in rooting out child abuse? This strongly:
Six years ago, to avoid retrial on charges that he groped a teenage boy, the Rev. Michael Fugee entered a rehabilitation program, underwent counseling for sex offenders and signed a binding agreement that would dictate the remainder of his life as a Roman Catholic priest.
Fugee would not work in any position involving children, the agreement with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office states. He would have no affiliation with youth groups. He would not attend youth retreats. He would not hear the confessions of minors.
But Fugee has openly done all of those things for the past several years through an unofficial association with a Monmouth County church, St. Mary’s Parish in Colts Neck.
But it’s OK — you see, Newark Archbishop John J. Myers approves. And as a man who, when it gets down to it, only has to obey God, he’s above any earthly “binding agreements.”
Fugee was charged with criminal sexual contact in 2001 after he was accused of fondling the genitals of a 14-year-old boy during wrestling matches on two occasions. At the time, the priest served as assistant pastor at the Church of St. Elizabeth in Wyckoff. …
[Since the binding agreement,] he has attended weekend youth retreats in Marlboro and on the shores of Lake Hopatcong in Mount Arlington, parishioners say. Fugee also has traveled with members of the St. Mary’s youth group on an annual pilgrimage to Canada. At all three locations, he has heard confessions from minors behind closed doors. What’s more, he has done so with the approval of New Jersey’s highest-ranking Catholic official, Newark Archbishop John J. Myers [in photo, via the Star Ledger].
The agreement, allowing the groping priest to escape more serious judicial consequences, was signed by Fugee himself; and also by the archdiocese’s vicar general, on behalf of Archbishop Myers.