The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark has hired Michael Critchley, a high-profile criminal defense lawyer, as prosecutors continue to investigate recent activities of a priest who allegedly molested a 13-year-old boy more than a decade ago.
In another development on Wednesday, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the New York archbishop who wields enormous influence among bishops worldwide, is closely following the case, his spokesman said.
A spokesman for Archbishop John J. Myers Wednesday confirmed that Critchley, a widely respected lawyer known for winning his clients light sentences or outright acquittals, is representing the archdiocese for “additional legal help.”
Critics have besieged the archdiocese since revelations surfaced that the Rev. Michael Fugee attended several youth retreats and extended pilgrimages in apparent disregard of an agreement he and a representative of Myers signed in 2007 with Bergen Countyprosecutors barring any activities with children. The prosecutor’s office immediately opened a new investigation.
Jim Goodness, Myers’ spokesman, said Critchley will be assisting in the review of legal documents in the inquiry, but he will not be involved in a civil lawsuit from Illinois that claims a diocese Myers led there as a bishop failed to keep an alleged pedophile priest away from children.
Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said that his office has talked extensively with Critchley, adding that the lawyer has been “cooperative and forthright in his dealings with us.” Molinelli said they are working on an exchange of a “considerable amount of information,” but declined further comment.