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Ormond Beach Observer Monday, Oct. 7, 2019 2 weeks ago

Judge revokes Ormond Beach man's bond in child sex abuse case

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The decision comes Monday following last Thursday's criminal hearing, where two of the victim's family members pleaded for Mark Fugler to return to jail as he awaits appeal.
by: Jarleene Almenas News Editor

A judge has revoked Mark Fugler's bond, ordering that the 61-year-old Ormond Beach man convicted in a 2016 child sex abuse case be taken into custody on Monday, Oct. 7.

Fugler, a former professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, was released from jail on Sept. 17, on a $200,000 bond. He was originally arrested by Ormond Beach Police on Nov. 4, 2016, after a 7-year-old girl's mother reported to police that Fugler had made her daughter watch pornographic films with him, and that Fugler had exposed his penis to her daughter. The victim's mother discovered this after finding entries in her daughter's diary.

Fugler was convicted on Aug. 15 of three counts of lewd and lascivious exhibition, three counts of displaying obscene material to a minor and three counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor for events that happened over a two-year period between Aug. 19, 2014 to June 20, 2016. He has no other criminal records. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. 

He is appealing his conviction on two issues: 1) that his age was not proven at trial, and 2) that the court made a mistake in its ruling on the admissibility of child hearsay (the victim's statement). 

Senior Judge Michael Hutcheson ruled that "there is an appealable claim that concerns a justiciable issue that is fairly debatable" for the counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor, but that there were none in the counts of displaying obscene material to a minor, as age is not an element, the Oct. 7 order states. The court also rejected Fugler's claim against the child hearsay admission.

Fugler will begin serving his sentence immediately, Hutcheson ruled.

At the criminal hearing, two family members of the now-10-year-old victim spoke before the court, both pleading for Fugler's bail to be reconsidered. The victim's grandfather said the victim chose to take the stand during trial because "she wanted to do everything in her power to make sure that Uncle Mark went to jail and could never do this to any other child again."

"Those were her words," the victim's grandfather said. "It pains me as a grandfather and her fishing buddy that she has to experience that embarrassment and painfulness for a third time, and know that her attacker can walk free in the city of Ormond Beach after all these years of litigation."

Fugler's defense attorney, Jason Forman, argued that the court can't overturn Fugler's bond without proof of misconduct or new evidence. He said Fugler has complied with the court while he was out on bail before the trial. 

Senior Judge R. Michael Hutcheson. Photo by Jarleene Almenas

“Nothing has changed," Forman said. "What the state has alleged is nothing new.”

Assistant State Attorney Ashley Terwilleger argued that Fugler was a flight risk due to his financial status, and brought up the victim's safety. By allowing Fugler to walk free, Terwilleger said the welfare of the victim is in "extreme jeopardy."

Before trial, Terwilleger said Fugler was considered innocent. Now, he's been convicted and is facing a 15-year sentence. Being granted bail today is different than before his trial, she said.

"His secret life that he was living when he was committing these crimes is no longer secret, and certainly in of itself is a reason for the defendant to flee the jurisdiction of this court," Terwilleger said.

The victim's mother also spoke before the court. She talked about how Fugler "manipulated" the family's trust over several years and believes Fugler would re-offend again if given the chance. She also told the judge about how she ran into him while walking to the Publix in The Trails on Friday.

"How in Earth can this be within the law to let this happen?" she said. "The gravity of the injustice in that moment was overwhelmingly tragic." 

Hutcherson will issue an order regarding Fugler's bond sometime next week. 

This story was updated at 12:50 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 7.

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