Catholic League President Staunchly Defends Newark Archbishop

May 1, 2013 | Religion

As the controversy surrounding Rev. Michael Fugee continues to build, the Newark Archbishop John Myers has been insisting that Fugee did nothing wrong. Meyers can find support in Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. Donohue has blasted critics of Myers, taking aim specifically at The Star-Ledger. Despite an agreement with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office which prohibits Fugee from working in any position within the the church involving children, Donohue told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that Fugee is innocent in the eyes of the law.

According to Donohue, the allegation that Fugee groped a teenage boy should not be considered a serious incident like rape.

“I don’t like when anybody grabs somebody’s crotch, even if it was 12 years ago, but that’s what we’re talking about,” said Donohue. “We’re not talking about rape, we’re not talking about serial molestation. We’re talking about a charge which by the way was thrown out.”

When pointed out that the charges were not thrown out and that an acquittal was overturned before Fugee entered into the prosecutor’s agreement, Donohue continued to maintain Fugee’s innocence.

“You well know that he’s innocent in the eyes of the law and innocent canonically speaking in terms of the Archdiocese of Newark and in the case of Rome,” Donohue insisted. “If you want me to take the position that a man who has been found innocent in the eyes of the law at the end of the day is going to be thrown under the bus, then as I say, none of us are safe.”

Donohue challenged whether anyone has come forward with evidence that Fugee in the last 12 years has been around children.

But The Star-Ledger has reported that during the past several years, Fugee traveled with members of a youth group belonging to St. Mary’s Parish in Colts Neck and taking confessions from minors behind closed doors.

“That’s what confession is, it’s always in private,” defended Donohue. “What do you want — a GPS tracking device on this man?”

Related: Some Call for Newark Archbishop’s Resignation After Priest Involved in Molestation Case Allowed to Work with Children