The famed founder of Life Teen, Msgr. Dale Fushek, was arrested in Phoenix today. He was charged with sexual misconduct with young men, including incidents in which he would have misued the confessional for that purpose, which is a very serious crime in the Church too.
Fushek was charged with three counts of assault, five of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and two of indecent exposure.
Fushek “used a relationship of trust to perform criminal acts, including but not limited to sexual activities, improper sexual discussions and physical contact, upon vulnerable minor and adult victims,” prosecutors said in court papers.
Prosecutors said Fushek committed the acts between 1984 and 1994 at St. Timothy’s Catholic Church in Mesa or on property belonging to the church. The alleged victims were seven young men and boys.
While the allegations against Fushek aren’t new—there have been accusations going back several years—and Fushek hasn’t been involved in Life Teen for a few years, this still has to be a blow to the program. I know a lot of people involved in Life Teen and a few who knew Fushek personally.
An arrest is not a conviction, but an indictment means that the prosecutor thinks he can make the case. It’s not good for Fushek. My primary sympathy and prayer is for all those whose Catholic faith came about because of Fushek’s ministry and who may suffer a crisis of faith because of this. Ugh.
More details are available in the Arizona Republic.