A Mars man was sentenced to probation in Butler County Court Thursday, after being charged with 80 felony counts on accusations that he communicated with an underage female in an inappropriate manner, and possessed child pornography.
James E. Fugh, 41, was sentenced to 24 months of probation by President Judge Thomas Doerr.
He was also ordered to pay court costs and $500 in fines, and to continue to report as directed to Dr. Tracy Veri, the sexual offender probation officer.
Fugh pleaded guilty Feb. 20 to one count of felony criminal use of a communications device.
He was initially charged with 80 felony counts, including 10 counts of sexual abuse of children; 10 counts of photographing, videotaping, depicting on computer or filming sexual acts; 10 counts of unlawful contact with a minor; 50 counts of child pornography; and 10 counts of criminal use of a communication facility after an investigation by the state police Northwest Computer Crime Task Force.
The investigation began after a report to Adams Township police of a man having an online relationship with a 16-year-old girl, according to court records. The case was then transferred to the task force.
Police said Fugh had a relationship with a girl from Canada from May 2014 to July 2015. She was 15 years old during the relationship, when they exchanged nude images.
The girl cut off contact after her parents discovered the relationship, police said. Ottawa police interviewed the victim on March 3, 2016, and she confirmed the details of the relationship.
When confronted, police said Fugh admitted to the relationship and turned over a flash drive and his computer. While examining Fugh’s computer, police say they also discovered hundreds of sexually explicit videos showing girls between the ages of 8 and 12 years old.
Fugh posted $100,000 bail following his arraignment.
During Thursday’s proceeding, Fugh said he reported the incident to police himself.
He also said that since his arrest, he has completed outpatient programs at Pittsburgh Mercy Behavioral Clinic and Cranberry Psychological Center, where he was diagnosed with depression and alcohol dependancy, as well as a rehabilitation program at Arch Manor in Kittanning.
Veri, who has overseen Fugh while on pretrial supervision, said that in the 22 months he has had zero infractions, no relapses and “completed every minuted of treatment we asked for, and sought out further treatment himself.”
“I believe that his risk to reoffend is very minimal,” she said.
Fugh said he is completing training to become a drug and alcohol counselor. He apologized to his family for the “embarrassment and humiliation” this case has caused and thanked all those who helped him after his arrest.