Following Father Michael Fugee’s resignation from the church after he was found to have violated an order that he not minister to minors, Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that he will no longer make similar agreements with priests.
Molinelli said that the charges against Fugee were fourth degree criminal contempt and an agreement was signed in 2007, which he violated. The violation could be punishable by up to 18 months in jail but since he has no prior convictions, it is unlikely that he will face jail time, Molinelli said.
“In the weeks following Fugee’s arrest, Archbishop John Myers had made it public that he did not believe that the church was equipt to handle the enforcement. He did not believe that the church could monitor priests the way that the memorandum required,” Molinelli said.
Molinelli said that the church needed to notify the prosecutors if Fugee moved out of the Diocese territory and if he went on trips or retreats, provide documents to the receiving church, ask him where he was living, ask for reports and ask for statements of what he was doing, all because Fugee could not have contact with minors.
“The Diocese needed to affirmatively monitor what he was doing and report to us,” Molinelli said.
Molinelli said as for the future, “I will not enter into that agreement again. We will look at priests in the criminal context because I do not believe the church has the ability to do it.”