Judge to decide next week if convicted sex offender should remain free

Mark Fugler granted bond after conviction on child sex charges

Mark Fugler.
Mark Fugler.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A judge will decide next week whether a former Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University professor convicted on child sex charges should be sent to prison after he was allowed to post bond while he appeals the decision.

The Office of State Attorney R.J. Larizza filed a motion last month asking that an order allowing Mark Fugler, 61, to be released on bond pending an appeal be reconsidered. 

Senior Judge R. Michael Hutcheson, who granted Fugler a $200,000 bond, heard arguments from both sides Thursday but said he wanted to mull over the case before making a ruling next week.

The girl's mother pleaded with the judge in a statement she read.

"My daughter was only alive five years before Mark changed her world. Please keep my daughter safe and your community safe from this child predator," she said.

Hutcheson's earlier bond decision allowed Fugler to be released from jail during his appeal, despite the state's argument that Fugler did not have significant ties to the community and was a flight risk.

The defense countered Thursday that Fugler is not a flight risk because he's being monitored by two agencies, wears an ankle bracelet, put up his house for collateral and surrendered his passport.

"They're trying to get you to revoke the bond without any misconduct, without any new evidence," Fugler's attorney said to the judge.

Fugler was convicted in June for showing pornographic material to a 7-year-old girl and performing sex acts in front of the child. According to court records, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison in August.

The court's decision to allow Fugler to be released on bond sparked outrage from Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood, who took to social media to express his frustrations.

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"He must be the envy of all sex criminals, able to walk free and enjoy the privileges of release on bond thanks to Judge Hutcheson's decision. Most other criminals sentenced to 15 years in prison have to file their appeals from a jail cell," Chitwood wrote on Facebook.

During a news conference last month, Chitwood said the fact that Fugler is free is not fair to the victim's family.

"I'm tired of hearing about the defendant. Screw him. What about the victim and the rest of her life?" Chitwood asked.