A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is urging two New Jersey Catholic bishops to discipline church employees who let an admitted predator priest work recently in their dioceses.
They also want the bishops to warn their flocks about the priest and aggressively seek out anyone who “may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes or misdeeds by him.”
Leaders of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) are writing the bishops in Trenton and Paterson about Fr. Michael Fugee.
SNAP wants both prelates to seek out anyone who may have information or suspicions about Fugee’s crimes or misdeeds to law enforcement. Fr. Fugee, a Newark archdiocesan priest who was forbidden to be around children, has worked recently in the Trenton Diocese and the Paterson Diocese.
Letters by SNAP President David Clohessy were sent to Trenton Bishop David O’Connell and Pateron Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli.
SNAP leaders wrote, "We strongly urge you, as church leaders in the areas where Fr. Fugee ministered - officially or unofficially, with or without permission - to appeal for victims and witnesses to come forward and report any abuse. Your outreach – in church bulletins, on parish websites and in pulpit announcements - should encourage anyone who witnessed, suspected or experienced abuse to contact law enforcement, not church officials," the SNAP letter says.
O’Connell has ousted two youth ministers at St. Mary's Parish in Colts Neck who invited Fugee to work there. He has also accepted the resignation of Father Tom Triggs from the same parish and put him on sabbatical.
But SNAP says that the punishments should have been more severe and more public, instead of just notifying Trenton priests of the move through an email. (The discipline was disclosed by Catholic blogger Rocco Palmo.)
Serratelli, however, has been silent about Fugee’s presence in his diocese, SNAP says.
In 2010, at a youth retreat at Lake Hopatcong in the Paterson Diocese, parishioners said Fugee heard confessions from youth.
In 2012, Fugee attend another youth retreat at Kateri Environmental Center in Marlboro in theTrenton Diocese. There is also evidence that he attended youth meetings and other youth retreats, even one in Canada.
In 2001, Fugee admitted to police that he had sexually abused a 13 year old boy. He later recanted, was charged and was convicted. But in 2006, the conviction was overturned on a technicality. To avoid a retrial, Fugee admitted his abuse, was barred from contact with children and sent to a rehabilitation center.
It recently came to light that Fugee – and the Newark archdiocese –violated the signed agreement with prosecutors because Fugee was repeatedly around children, even attending youth retreats. Officials in the dioceses of Trenton and Patterson claim to have been uninformed about Fugee’s status, despite considerable media coverage of Fugee’s conviction and his subsequent ouster, a few years later, from a hospital chaplaincy.
The leaders of SNAP fear that Fugee may have abused more kids in recent years.
“You can send a clear message that you will not tolerate secrecy and recklessness when a known abuser has worked in your diocese,” SNAP’s letter says.
The full text of SNAP’s letter, sent today by fax and email, is available by request: SNAPclohessy@aol.com
For more information: David Clohessy (314-566-9790) or Mark Crawford (732-632-7687, firstname.lastname@example.org)