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'It's a no brainer': Leaders work to change law that allows sex offenders to be free during appeal

Controversy stems from ex-professor's sex conviction, appeal

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Outrage over a convicted child sex offender being released on bond while waiting for an appeal has sparked state lawmakers to take action.

"A law that allows a convicted sex offender to go back into his neighborhood during the dependency of an appeal is just not one that should stand," said state Rep. Tom Leek.

Leek and state Sen. Tom Wright are now working to get the law changed.

Sheriff Mike Chitwood drew attention to this case involving 61-year-old Mark Fugler, a former professor at Embry Riddle University who has been out on bond since receiving his 15-year prison sentence. Fugler was convicted of a sex crime involving a 7-year-old girl.

[RELATED: State Rep: Convicted ex-professor shouldn't be free during appealState wants release of man convicted on child sex charges reconsidered]

"There are already a list of offenses, that if you commit those offenses you are not going to be allowed release during your appeal. So, we're going to add this to that list of offenses that would prohibit a judge from exercising the discretion to allow the release of an individual like this, pending appeal," Leek said.

Leek said they're in the process of writing up the bill and plan to file it as soon as possible. Chitwood said he thanks both Leek and Wright for working hard to change the law.

"When anybody looks at it, it's a no brainer. The decision to allow him out defies common sense," said Chitwood.

Chitwood said the 7th Judicial Circuit has used this type of appeal bond before but said there is one difference.

"None of those four cases in a two-year period were as egregious or dealt with a victim under the age of 12," he said.

[MORE: Former professor convicted on child sex charge bonds out of jailFormer Embry-Riddle professor to serve 15 years for child sex crimes]

Even if the law passes, Chitwood said it would not affect Fugler, but at least it will ensure that this would never happen again. 

"The only real fix for this guy is for the judge to revoke his bond and get him into state custody where he belongs."

The judge will have a hearing next week on whether Fugler should be sent back to jail.


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