Monsignor Dale Fushek won an appeal Tuesday that will grant him a jury trial on seven misdemeanor charges of sexual misconduct.
A Superior Court judge overruled a lower court in granting the jury trial for the former pastor at St. Timothy’s Catholic Community in Mesa.
Defendants accused of petty offenses don’t have a right to a jury trial in Arizona unless certain legal guidelines are met, including whether the charges carry “additional severe, direct, uniformly applied, statutory consequences,” wrote Judge Douglas Rayes.
Fushek met that guideline because he faces the possibility of registering as a sex offender if convicted of assault, indecent exposure and five counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, Rayes reasoned.
“Registration as a sex offender is a ‘modern-day scarlet letter,’ ” Rayes wrote. “The sex offender label, unlike the mere conviction of a misdemeanor, changes the offender’s status and acceptance in society.”
Chief assistant county attorney Sally Wolfgang Wells said prosecutors will appeal Rayes’ decision.
Fushek served as pastor at St. Timothy’s Catholic Community for 20 years and founded the national Life Teen program.
Fushek appealed the ruling of Judge Samuel Goodman of the San Tan Justice Court in Gilbert, who found that Fushek wasn’t entitled to a jury trial except for the one count of indecent exposure.
No trial date has been set.
Fushek was charged in November and accused of having sexually related discussions during confessions with teenagers. He is also accused of exposing himself to teens as he got into his hot tub.