Ormond Beach man convicted of 2016 child sex abuse case granted bail
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood is asking people to email the chief judge and state attorney to overturn the bail decision.
| 5:40 p.m. September 18, 2019
Ormond Beach Observer
Just a month after he was convicted to 15 years in prison for a 2016 child sex abuse case, a 61-year-old Ormond Beach man is now out on bail.
Mark Fugler, a former professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, was released from jail on Tuesday, Sept. 17, on a $200,000 bond as he awaits the completion of his appeals. Fugler was 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.
On Aug. 15, Fugler was convicted 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 stole a child’s innocence," said Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood. "He groomed our victim to do this, and yet the judicial system gives him every break.”
Chitwood is asking for residents to respectfully reach out to Chief Judge Raul Zambrano and State Attorney R.J. Larizza and implore they overturn the bail decision granted by Senior Judge R. Michael Hutcheson.
It's not the first time this judge has granted bail to a sex offender, Chitwood said. In 2009, he granted bail to a man involved in a case with six young victims.
“Where does it say one person is bigger than the criminal justice system?" Chitwood said. "Where does it say that he gets all the breaks and the victim gets nothing. It’s not fair. It’s not right.”
Will Raulerson, the foreman on the jury who convicted Fugler, said it's upsetting to have done his job and then have a judge "annihilate" the jury's verdict. As a father, Raulerson said it was heartbreaking to see the young victim testify and face her perpetrator years after the initial trauma.
“As a jury, as a citizen of the county of Volusia, all my life born and raised here, it’s hard to sit back and watch stuff like this take place," Raulerson said.
Chitwood said Fugler's defense team will likely drag out a long appeals process over years to come. Then, they'll argue Fugler is too old to go to jail. The judge doesn't have to explain his decision, he added.
“You just make the ruling, you bring your gavel down, you get in your car, drive home to your gated community, and the rest of the people are left with that decision," Chitwood said.