Bergen County Prosecutor: Autism Training Is Important For Officials


Law enforcement officials began an educational course on autism Tuesday. Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that the education is important for officers to receive.

“There is such a large segment of our society that consists of persons with autism and police officers — particularly those on the street — they are more likely in Bergen County throughout the state to encounter an individual with autism and today’s training really reflects the need for law enforcement officers to recognize that individuals with autism often will do things that they might not expect,” said Molinelli. “That they might perceive differently than what is extended by that person.”

Molinelli said that the autism training is designed to help police officers react in ways that are not harmful to the individual or the officer. The training provides an opportunity for officers to be more enlightened when addressing individuals with autism, according to Molinelli.

Recently, the Vatican expelled Michael Fugee from priesthood. He had been accused of inappropriate sexual contact with a minor. The decision from the Vatican came months after the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office dropped criminal charges against Fugee.

Molinelli said that the decision was a key part of the agreement that the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office had reached with Fugee and that the decision to remove Fugee as a priest came directly from Rome.

As for his relationship with the Archdiocese, Molinelli says that he did what he felt was necessary for the office to take over monitoring Fugee.

“There are a lot of conditions that Fugee has to comply with for the rest of his life,” Molinelli said. “We will make sure that he does continue to comply with them. We’re simply dealing with him now as a human being, as a one-on-one person and we no longer need to go through the Archdiocese to ensure compliance. Now we will do it directly with Fugee.”

Molinelli said that Fugee will not be required to register as a Megan’s Law offender, but he will continue to be monitored.