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Newark Archdiocese leader resigns amid sex scandal

Published: Sunday, May 26, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

NEWARK, N.J. – The second-highest official in the Archdiocese of Newark is stepping down in the wake of a sex scandal involving a former priest accused of violating an agreement with law enforcement barring him from working with children.

Church officials say Monsignor John Doran resigned Friday as vicar general and will no longer hold a leadership position with the archdiocese. Doran signed the agreement the former priest had reached with prosecutors in 2007.

The move is among several changes the archdiocese says it’s implementing to protect children. The changes are noted in a letter from Archbishop John Myers, which will be read in parishes across the archdiocese this weekend.

Myers wrote that an outside review found “operational failures” in the handling of the Rev. Michael Fugee, who resigned this month. But he didn’t place the blame for lax oversight on Doran, who had been vicar general for six years.

Doran couldn’t be reached for comment Saturday.

Myers has faced heavy criticism over his handling of the case, with victims’ advocates and some politicians calling for him to resign. But in the letter, Myers said the archdiocese has an “exemplary record of addressing allegations against our clergy.”

The 52-year-old Fugee was convicted in 2003 of fondling a boy in Wyckoff. However, that verdict was vacated because of judicial error. Fugee entered a program to avoid retrial and agreed to never again work with children.

However, he attended youth retreats involving a church in Colts Neck and heard children’s confessions.

Among the changes the archdiocese plans is transferring responsibility for monitoring cases such as Fugee’s to the Office of the Judicial Vicar. Myers also will add a special adviser to the archdiocesan review board and commit more resources to the panel.

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