"I'm Not Going to Hide" Says Man Allegedly Victimized by Former Jackson Priest
By Theresa Ghiloni
June 26, 2015
A man who said he was among those victimized by former priest at Jackson Lumen Christi High School more than 30 years ago, wants other victims to know that justice and closure are possible.
Andrew Russell, 46, spoke with the Jackson Citizen Patriot after a probable cause hearing for 75-year-old James Rapp, who faces 19 counts of criminal sexual conduct for crime he is accused of committing from 1981 through 1986.
"I'm not going to ... hide my face, I'm going to step forward and talk for these people and represent these people," Russell said. "It's not just about this case. It's about abuse worldwide and coming forward and getting healing. ... It's time justice was served, and to move on and get healing."
He said there should be no shame or embarrassment in sharing the truth.
"I hate that it's me, but somebody has to," he said.
Russell said he is grateful that two men came forward in 2013 and reported the abuse to the Jackson County Sheriff's Office. Sgt. Tim Schlundt, then launched an extensive investigation against Rapp, who has been serving a 40-year prison sentencing in Oklahoma since 1999.
Rapp pleaded no contest in Oklahoma to lewd molestation charges he committed in Duncan, where he worked from 1990-98.
In January, Attorney General Bill Schuette's Office authorized 13 counts of criminal sexual conduct against Rapp, who was a priest, teacher, maintenance supervisor and wrestling coach during his time at Lumen Christi High School from 1980-86.
Six more counts were added against Rapp on Friday, June 26, involving two additional victims who have since come forward, Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis told Jackson District Judge Joseph Filip.
"I think it's great that these survivors can come out and tell their story and get it off their chest," Russell said. "There is strength in numbers and that is what we need. We need people to wrap around and support these guys. We need people from the non-Catholic community and from the Catholic community, especially, to step forward and make right what was wronged 30 years ago."
He said a child sexual abuse is "like murder on their soul" for the victims. It changes their lives forever, he said.
"This is not something that just goes away. This is not something you just forget," Russell said. "We're just hoping that the people that are seeing this and reading this will support us and come forward to make right what was wrong."