Oregon State Police captain and former spokesman William Arthur Fugate was sentenced Tuesday to two days in jail for harassment after pleading guilty to violently grabbing his estranged wife in 2017.
At an emotional hearing in Deschutes County Circuit Court, Fugate accepted responsibility for causing injury to Georgina Monrean-Fugate, his onetime high school sweetheart who grew terrified of him over two decades of marriage.
Fugate, 43, agreed to the brief jail term, plus two years probation and attendance in a batterers intervention class.
Once the face of OSP, Fugate remains under internal investigation and on unpaid leave.
Fugate’s case came to Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel’s office under “chilling” circumstances, Hummel said Tuesday.
Several years ago, Monrean-Fugate had become so afraid of her husband that she and a friend developed a safety word to use if Monrean-Fugate feared imminent harm, Hummel said. One day last year, the friends were talking on the phone when the call was abruptly disconnected. The friend texted the safety word; Monrean-Fugate replied but did not indicate she was all right, Hummel said. The friend called police.
“(Monrean-Fugate) was initially reluctant to share any information,” Hummel said. “But then she related an account that described 10 years of abuse.”
Particularly chilling, Hummel said, was a letter Monrean-Fugate gave the same friend several years earlier. It came in a sealed envelope with a note saying not to read unless Monrean-Fugate died.
During the investigation, the friend told authorities about the letter. They asked Monrean-Fugate if they could read it. She agreed, Hummel said, and what police found shocked them.
“She had written an account of all the abuse she had suffered,” Hummel said. “She was afraid that if her husband killed her he would make it seem accidental or like someone else did it, and she wanted that account to survive her death.”
Hummel said investigators uncovered seven total instances of domestic violence, five of which were barred from prosecution because of Oregon’s statute of limitations.
According to Monrean-Fugate, who spoke in court Tuesday, she and her husband were high school sweethearts and their first years of marriage were happy. They married in 1997 and have two children, 15 and 19. Their 15-year-old daughter also gave a statement at Fugate’s sentencing, asking him to get help.
In January, the couple filed for divorce. The same day, Monrean-Fugate filed a restraining order, stating she feared for her safety.
In February, Hummel announced Fugate was under investigation for crimes related to domestic violence. OSP placed him on paid leave.
In late June, Fugate was indicted on two counts of misdemeanor harassment, at which point he was moved to unpaid administrative leave, which is OSP policy when an employee faces criminal charges, according to agency spokesman Capt. Tim Fox.
Tuesday, Fugate pleaded guilty to one count of harassment, for an incident on June 15, 2017, during a verbal argument in the couple’s Redmond home. Fugate “violently” grabbed his estranged wife’s arm to get her attention, according to Hummel, who took the rare step of personally prosecuting this case.
Monrean-Fugate photographed the bruises her husband had caused.
“That photo was a critical piece of evidence,” Hummel said.
Fugate came to OSP 11 years ago after working for the Vancouver Police Department. When he was placed on leave, he was earning between $9,900 and $10,900 per month.
His attorney, Stephen Houze, told The Bulletin his client’s actions were motivated in part by post-traumatic stress disorder caused by many years in law enforcement and the military.
“One of the things that’s so sinister about this condition is that it’s so hard for these guys to see it happening,” he said. “These are ordinary people asked to do extraordinary things. And it takes its toll.”
Fugate and Monrean-Fugate are still in the process of dissolving their marriage.
“He feels horrible about what happened,” Houze said. “In time, he hopes to resurrect a relationship with his kids. He loves them very much and he very much wants to be their dad.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0325, firstname.lastname@example.org