The disturbing case of Msgr. Dale Fushek, Life Teen founder and former vicar general in Phoenix, moves forward by inches. He’s now seeking a jury trial six of seven misdemeanor sex charges; at the moment he’s due to be judge by a Justice of the Peace.
I’m a little disturbed by an element of his defense, but I will admit that since we don’t know the full details there might be more to story that mitigates this question. Among the accusations against Fushek are claims by five men who were teens in the 1980s and early 1990s who said that Fushek engaged in them in “explicit conversations about sex,” invited one into his bed “engaging in kissing and snuggling,” and exposing himself to the same boy.
On the charge regarding the explicit conversations, Fushek’s lawyers claims that the conversations about sex took place in the confessional.
Hoidal has argued that Fushek was counseling the boys as a priest and his actions are protected by the First Amendment right to freedom of religion. “Premarital sex and masturbation are sins that must be confessed according to the church,” Hoidal wrote. “By attempting to punish Monsignor Fushek for inquiring about these sins, the State is preventing him from fully practicing his religion. Fushek’s views on the sexual issues should not be subject to censorship because they are part of his religion.”
Now hold on a minute: If these conversations were part of confessions how can Fushek be talking about them? In order for the lawyer to tell the media that the conversations were part of confessions, then Fushek had to have told the lawyer details of the nature of the confessions. That’s a violation of the seal, is it not?
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