WOODBURY A suspended Paulsboro High School science teacher was sentenced Friday to seven years in prison. Authorities said he pretended to be a teenage boy on social media to communicate with one of his students and tried to lure her.
Michael Furey, 50, of West Deptford, was found guilty in October of official misconduct and third-degree luring by Superior Court Judge Walter L. Marshall.
Marshall sentenced Furey to seven years in prison for each conviction; the sentences are to run concurrently. Furey, who will have to serve five years before being eligible for parole, is barred from holding a public position.
Furey's student was a 17-year-old junior at the time the alleged incident in June 2010. Now 21, she told the court Friday of her subsequent panic and anxiety attacks. Her mother sat two rows behind Furey's family members.
The Inquirer is not naming the woman. Furey must register as a Megan's Law sex offender.
Before the incident, the victim said she was a straight-A student and played the baritone sax as well as tennis, basketball, and softball at the high school. But afterward, she said, students and teachers helped make her senior year - which was "supposed to be one of the best years of my life" - uneasy.
"I had students who would walk up to me and call me a liar to my face," she said in court, using notes during her brief victim-impact statement.
Students also told her she was "making it up for attention," she told the court.
"The sight of a car that looked anything like his," she said, "sent me into massive panic attacks."
Authorities allege that Furey set up a MySpace account and sent messages to her under the guise of a boy. The Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office said earlier that some of the messages were "very sexual in nature." The first messages were sent Dec. 1, 2009, and messages continued into in 2010.
Her MySpace account had a filter restricting contact to users under age 18.
On June 23, 2010, the victim said, she was walking from a friend's home in Paulsboro that only she, her friend, and "the boy" would have known that she would take when she saw Furey, also her class adviser, the Prosecutor's Office said.
Furey, who was parked on the street, flashed his lights, authorities said, and tried to get the girl into the vehicle.
"I told him he was a creeper, and I started walking away," she testified earlier this year.
Two days later, the girl told her mother, who notified authorities.
Furey, who taught biology, was suspended without pay.
Paulsboro interim school superintendent Walter Quint said Friday that the district would wait for the judge's order and guidance from counsel before taking further action against Furey.
The victim said her panic and anxiety attacks are now less frequent, kept under control with medication. "Everything is still fresh. It still haunts me," she told the court.
Then she took her seat next to her mother, who touched her daughter's knee and held her hand.
In an interview after the sentencing, her mother said the young woman was studying forensic anthropology at a college in Pennsylvania. She hopes to unearth the remains of prisoners of war in Hawaii, her mother said.
Furey's attorney, Robert Wolf, had "adamantly" denied any luring. In court, Wolf painted his client as a law-abiding citizen and 27-year Air Force veteran who served in combat - Desert Storm, Desert Shield, Iraqi Freedom, and the war in Afghanistan - and decorated cargo planes on holidays.
Furey declined to speak.
"He's always been a good brother. He's always been a loving father, a dedicated military man, a good friend," his brother Joe, one of more than a half-dozen family members in the courtroom, told Marshall.
Outside the courtroom, Gloucester County Assistant Prosecutor Staci Scheetz, who tried the case, hugged the woman, for the second time that morning, and her mother.