Phoenix - He was once the second-highest ranking Catholic priest within the Phoenix Diocese. Thursday, former Monsignor Dale Fushek pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor assault.
The 57-year-old admitted to inappropriately touching a boy while running a youth program during the mid 1980's. Fushek admitted to touching the genitals of his victim through the victim's clothing.
When the allegations were brought forth in 2005, Fushek was arrested on several child sex abuse charges. He was accused of fondling 7 young boys while working at St. Timothy's in Mesa.
As a result of his plea agreement, Fushek would admit guilt to one of the charges, misdemeanor assault, and the others would be dismissed.
Before the sentence was read, one of Fushek's alleged victims spoke out. The victim said he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, and anxiety. He also said he's just ready for this 5-year battle to be over.
Fushek pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 364 days of probation, avoiding the maximum penalty of 30 days in jail.
In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, Fushek said he humbly asks for forgiveness and the forgiveness of anyone he hurt during his years of ministry.
The former vicar general of the Phoenix Catholic Diocese said he was grateful for the support he has received from friends and family and asked for their forgiveness.
Fushek continues to hold services at Mesa Shopping Center. His parishioners had sent the judge letters asking for leniency.
Statement from the Diocese of Phoenix
The Diocese of Phoenix was informed today that Dale Fushek entered a plea agreement with the Maricopa County Attorneys Office regarding charges of a Class 3 Misdemeanor Assault. Fushek, a former priest of the Diocese of Phoenix, was laicized by Pope Benedict XVI in December of 2009. The Diocese of Phoenix is saddened when ever a member of the clergy has engaged in inappropriate contact with a minor. As Catholics, we are aware of the anguish of those affected by these tragedies including victims, families, parishioners and the general public. Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted asks that everyone pray to God for healing in the lives of those involved.
In accord with Diocesan policy and procedures, the Diocese cooperated with the Maricopa County Attorneys Office in its investigation. For nearly 20 years, the Diocese of Phoenix has maintained and continually updated a comprehensive policy and a set of procedures for the protection of minors to assist the Catholic community in prevention, reporting and healing of sexual misconduct and sexual abuse. The policy and its procedures underscore the Dioceses firm commitment to make informed decisions about the fitness of accused priests; to cooperate with civil authorities in the investigation of all allegations; and to encourage victims to come forward. As always, Bishop Olmsted and the Diocese of Phoenix encourages anyone who has experienced sexual misconduct or abuse by a member of the clergy or by any worker in the Church to make a report to local law enforcement and to contact the Office of Child and Youth Protection at (602) 354-2396.