Press release October 30, 2013
Suspended Paulsboro High School biology teacher Michael Furey (DOB 12/2/63), of West Deptford NJ was found guilty today (10/29) of official misconduct and luring, specifically by pretending to be a boy on the Myspace social networking service in an effort to have a sexual encounter with one of his students.
In Furey’s non-jury trial, the student testified she thought the messages she was receiving in 2010, some of them very sexual in nature, were coming from someone her own age.
“Nobody could contact me unless they were under the age of 18,” she specified in setting up a filter on her Myspace account. She was then a 17-year-old junior.
But one night in June 2010, she realized that the messages were coming from Furey, the student said.
Testifying before Judge Walter L. Marshall Jr. on 9/10, the girl described her reaction to seeing Furey parked in a car in Paulsboro, flashing his headlights as she walked home from a friend’s house, along a street only her friend and the message-sender would have known she had taken:
“I told him he was a creeper and I started walking away,” she testified. She was “shell-shocked,” she said. Furey had not only been her teacher, but also was her class advisor, she said. Before she left, Furey told her, “OK, just delete all the
messages and don’t tell anybody this happened,” she testified.
She reported the encounter to her mother two days later and Furey was arrested. He has been suspended without pay since then.
Judge Marshall today found Furey, a tenured teacher and 27-year Air Force veteran, guilty of both second-degree misconduct and third-degree luring.
“The defendant breached his duties as defined by the administrative code,” the judge said. Furey “used his knowledge as a teacher to keep her interest,” he said.
As to luring, Furey’s messages showed he wanted to make sure the girl was alone and that his purpose was to commit a criminal offense, which was “to have sexual relations” with her, Judge Marshall said.
“He could be said to be obsessed,” the judge said.
Judge Marshall revoked Furey’s $50,000 bail and he was placed in jail pending a scheduled 11/29 sentencing.
In closing arguments, Furey defense attorney Robert Wolf said while his client acted unethically and immorally and should be barred from teaching, he “did not abuse any official duty” and is not guilty of official misconduct. Furey, who did not testify, also “adamantly denied” he committed luring, Wolf said “The fact is, we don’t know what he would have done in the car.”
Assistant Gloucester County Prosecutor Staci Scheetz contended in her summation that Furey committed misconduct because his acts were “clearly connected” to his job and intended for “prurient benefit.” “The only reason the defendant knew the victim was because he was a teacher and she was a student in the district,” she said. Even though no sexual contact occurred, the attempt is proof of guilt under the luring law, she said.