Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Bishop Turns Up at Court in Bergen

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Bishop Turns Up at Court in Bergen

Article excerpt

HACKENSACK - Newark Archbishop John J. Myers visited the Bergen County Courthouse on Thursday, months after a local priest was arrested on seven counts accusing him of violating a lifetime ban on ministering to children, charges that were referred to a grand jury.

The priest, the Rev. Michael Fugee, a former assistant pastor of a Wyckoff parish, was found guilty in 2003 of groping a teenage boy, but the conviction was overturned three years later because of a judicial error. He and the archdiocese later signed an agreement with the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office that barred him from working with children. He was returned to the ministry in 2009.

Prosecutors in May charged Fugee with seven felony counts of contempt of a judicial order, claiming he violated the agreement by hearing confessions from minors seven times from April 2010 to December 2012 at various churches, a retreat center and a private home.

A grand jury typically decides in private whether felony charges are credible enough to indict. Fugee has not been indicted. He was released on $25,000 bail.

It's unclear why Myers was at the courthouse, which also is where the Prosecutor's Office is located.

The archbishop was seen at 11:20 a.m. outside the courthouse with Jim Goodness, archdiocese spokesman and vice chancellor. Goodness declined to comment about the appearance.

"The whole inquiry is supposed to be done confidentially, so I can't share any information in any capacity," he said.

He added: "We are cooperating with the prosecutor completely in their inquiry of the Father Fugee matter. We continue to and have been from the beginning."

No one from the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office would say why Myers was at the courthouse.

Fugee's new lawyer, John Whipple, said he also did not know why Myers was at the courthouse. …

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