Ex-Catholic Priest from Utah to Stay in Prison for Molesting Boy

By Pamela Manson
The Salt Lake Tribune
July 23, 2007

Defrocked Catholic priest James F. Rapp - who was accused by two Salt Lake County brothers of sexually abusing them more than 30 years ago - will remain incarcerated for the molestation of an Oklahoma boy, that state's parole board has decided.

The Oklahoma Board of Pardon and Parole reviewed Rapp's case last week and announced its decision on Monday. The former Utahn pleaded no contest in 1999 to lewd molestation of a Duncan boy and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Within the next few weeks, the board will schedule another parole review for Rapp, who taught at Judge Memorial Catholic High School in Salt Lake City for about five years. The then-priest, now 67, left the school in the mid-1970s and later worked in Michigan and Oklahoma parishes.

The decision was a relief to Charles Colosimo, who says Rapp molested him repeatedly when he was child.

"I'm pleased that he's not going to be set free to prey on anybody else," Colosimo said.

Charles and brother Ralph Colosimo filed suit in 2003 in 3rd District Court claiming Rapp, once a trusted friend of their Magna family, had sexually abused them.

The brothers alleged that school and church leaders knew the priest was a pedophile but did nothing to stop him. In fact, according to the lawsuit, Rapp's superiors had received multiple complaints from students by 1969 - the end of his first year of teaching at Judge - that the priest had approached them for sexual favors and touched them inappropriately.

Ralph Colosimo alleged Rapp molested him when he was a student at Judge Memorial Catholic High School in the early 1970s. Charles Colosimo said the priest became a family friend when he was attending Kearns-St. Ann School and sexually abused him from 1972 through 1975.

The Colosimo suit, which sought millions of dollars in damages, was believed to be the first in Utah since the national sexual abuse scandal engulfed the U.S. Catholic Church in 2002. Among the defendants were Rapp and the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, which encompases all of Utah.

Rapp never responded to the lawsuit and a default judgment was entered against him. The church asked to have the suit thrown out, saying it was filed years past a deadline to bring such actions.

The suit was dismissed by the 3rd District Court and then the Utah Court of Appeals on the grounds that the Colosimos had waited too long to pursue legal action. Under Utah law, they had until age 22, four years after they became adults, to file the suit. Ralph is now 53 and Charles is 45.

The brothers then took their case to the Utah Supreme Court. In arguments last year, neither side denied the brothers had been harmed but attorneys instead focused on the statute-of-limitations issue.

Utah's high court on March 13 upheld the dismissal of the lawsuit, saying precedent stopped it from extending the deadlines for plaintiffs to investigate potential claims arising from their molestation.

Contact: Pamela Manson


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