In a move branded "breathtaking arrogance" by a watchdog group, the Archdiocese of Newark has appointed a priest -- who once confessed to touching an underage boy -- to a key job, the Star-Ledger reports.
The Rev. Michael Fugee has been named co-director of the Office of Continuing Education and Ongoing Formation of Priests, a post that does not involve contact with children, as mandated by a court agreement, according to the Star-Ledger.
Jim Goodness, a spokesman for the archdiocese, told the paper the job was administrative. He also expressed confidence in Fugee.
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In 2003 Fugee was convicted of aggravated criminal sexual contact after he told police he intentionally touched a 14-year-old boy's crotch during wrestling sessions at the boy's home, the New York Times reported. In court, Fugee later said he made the admission because he got impatient.
According to NPR, Fugee received five years' probation, but an appellate court overturned the verdict three years later, deciding that the trial judge instructed the jury incorrectly. The archdiocese agreed to prevent Fugee's contact with children instead of going through another trial.
Since then, Fugee has continued to "celebrate" mass at churches around New Jersey, the Star-Ledger reports. He also has held a fundraising post for missionary work the last several years, according to the Associated Press.
Another report of alleged oversight in a clergy sex-abuse case emerged in Los Angeles this week. A now-retired priest, who once told a psychologist he had "sexual relations" with an underaged girl, continued to serve as a priest for years and was hired by the Los Angeles Unified School District for an outreach program.