Victims of Pedophile Priest Fight to Keep Him from Being Released

By Kevin Dietz
Click on Detroit
September 27, 2016

DETROIT - A Michigan prosecutor is teaming up with a group of men who were sexually abused as boys by their priest to try to keep the pedophile from being released on parole.

The incidents happened over 30 years ago, but they're coming forward now as the priest is up for parole in Oklahoma.

Abused by the priest as children, the victims say its time to speak up so that it never happens again.

He knelt beside the bed I was in," John Wood said. "He held my hand ... said the Lord's Prayer ... and then climbed in bed with me ... and had his way with me."

The men are being called heroes in a horrific case of abuse.

"For me, I was a sophomore," Chuck Smitchler said. "I was 15 at the time. It started on the wrestling team. He was the wrestling coach. It was the first time I ever wrestled."

Six victims are coming forward to face the priest who abused them.

"I had trouble fighting him off," Andrew Russell said. "He's a strong guy. I had the incident, finally, where he stuck his hands down my pants and I was able to fight him off and get out of his office."

They're speaking up in an attempt to keep the man behind bars and telling stories to shed light on the problem and expose the truth.

Father James Rapp was a priest and wrestling coach at Michigan's Jackson Lumen Christi High School from 1980 to 1986. He had moved around the country over the years, living in Philadelphia, New York, Illinois and Utah. In Oklahoma, he picked up a molestation charge that sent him to prison.

"I'm not to spend another minute stuck in the quagmire of loneliness and despair and anger, and trust, distrust, and a lot of those things that come along in the parcel of being compromised at such an early age," Matthew Collosmo said.

He was up for parole when victims in Michigan agreed to tell their story in court. Coming forward was not easy.

"This priest, he was coach, teacher, priest," a victim said. "Once he knew we respected all of that stuff, he used that to his advantage."

Their stories are necessary for prosecutors to press new charges and to make a new case in Michigan.

"We're happy we can at least speak for them or get a little justice for them," a prosecutor said.

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The Local 4 Defenders will give you a look into the courtroom Wednesday at 5 p.m. to see the criminal case against the former Michigan priest and the prosecutor who is working to make sure he stays behind bars.








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