Former High School Priest Sentenced up to 40 Years for 6 Counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct
By Benjamin Raven
April 29, 2016
|Photos of James Rapp sit on the table during the sentencing hearing for James Rapp at the Jackson County Circuit Court on April 29, 2016. (Taylor Irby | Mlive.com)|
A former Jackson Lumen Christi High School priest was sentenced to up to 40 years in prison before a barrage of cameras, friends and families of his victims.
The sentence came Friday, April 29, in a Jackson County Circuit courtroom after six of James Rapp's victims provided more than two hours of gripping, detailed testimonials of how the former priest and coach abused them and affected their lives.
Some remained anonymous, but others made the choice to make themselves known in court.
Photos of victims were placed on a table in front of Jackson County Circuit Judge Susan Beebe and in plain sight of Rapp, his attorney Alfred Brandt and Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis, who prosecuted the case.
All but one of the photos were black and white and ranged in date from the 1970s to the early 1990s. They represent the victims at the age they were abused by Rapp.
Rapp, 75, was at Lumen Christi from 1980-86.
Rapp pleaded no contest to three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct in February. As part of a plea agreement, 13 charges of criminal sexual conduct were dismissed.
The six counts Rapp pleaded to include reports from five students and one custodian from more than 30 years ago. A statute of limitations does not exist for first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges.
"I think it's evident that the only way to heal, move forward and to protect others from this same thing is to bring it out into the open," Povilaitis said, as she choked back tears while making eye contact with the victims in attendance. "Shed light on it, and expose the truth. And they've done that.
"They are true heroes in a horrible situation."
Rapp declined to comment, but Brandt said on his behalf that he hopes this is the end of a long road and hopefully for these individuals, a beginning.
Rapp's investigation started in 2013 after two men came forward to the Jackson County Sheriff's Office. The former Lumen Christi High School priest is currently serving a 40-year prison term in Oklahoma where he pleaded no contest to lewd molestation charges prior to the turn of the millennium.
Rapp was ordained in 1959, went on to work in Philadelphia from 1959-61; Salt Lake City from 1968-73; Lockport, N.Y. from 1979-80 before coming to Lumen Christi. After that, he went to Naperville, Ill. from 1987-90; and Duncan, Okla. from 1990-98.