JACKSON, Mich. (AP) — Victims confronted a former Roman Catholic priest in court Friday as he was sentenced to at least 20 years in prison for sexually abusing students at a Michigan high school in the 1980s.
A judge heard more than two hours of testimony from six men who described in detail how James Rapp molested them. Rapp coerced students into having sexual contact while working as a teacher and wrestling coach at Lumen Christi High School in Jackson.
“His crime and position was a murder on my soul,” Andy Russell said. “He’s a monster and his path of destruction extends far further than it ever should have.”
The Associated Press doesn’t typically identify victims of sexual abuse, but Russell has talked publicly to the Jackson Citizen Patriot about what happened at the school.
In February, Rapp, 75, pleaded no contest to criminal sexual conduct. He was in prison in Oklahoma for similar crimes when he was charged in Michigan last year. He worked in Philadelphia; Salt Lake City; Naperville, Illinois; Duncan, Oklahoma; Jackson, Michigan and Lockport, New York before he was defrocked as a priest.
An investigation in Michigan began in 2013 when victims approached the sheriff’s department. Some victims said they complained to school officials in the 1980s but no action was taken.
Russell said he was kicked out of Lumen Christi — “the best thing that ever happened to me,” the Citizen Patriot reported.
Rapp will be eligible for parole after 20 years. His maximum prison sentence is 40 years.
“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,” Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaiti said of the victims. “Shed light on it, and expose the truth. And they’ve done that. They are true heroes in a horrible situation.”