Schuette charges former Michigan priest in 1980s sexual abuse cases

Attorney General Bill Schuette announced his Criminal Division has charged James Francis Rapp, 74, currently incarcerated in another state, with multiple felonies for his alleged sexual assault of several Michigan boys in the 1980s.  Rapp served as a priest, teacher, maintenance supervisor, and wrestling coach at Jackson Lumen Christi (JLC) High School in Jackson, Michigan from September 1980 through February 1986.

The charges follow an extensive investigation by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department with support from Schuette’s Criminal Division. 

“People who abuse their authority by preying on children must be brought to justice, no matter when the crime was committed,” said Schuette.  “Our aggressive, victim-centered approach has brought us one step closer to securing justice for these brave men who stepped forward to tell of the abuse they endured many years ago.”

“I would like to praise the work of Sergeant Tim Schlundt in this investigation.  Many hours were spent in an attempt to gather facts about this case,” said Jackson County Sheriff Steven Rand.  “Despite the age of this case, the lives of the victims continue to be impacted.  It is my hope that the opportunity for victims to have their day in court will bring some degree of comfort.”

Case Background
In spring of 2013, more than 30 years after the alleged crimes occurred, two of Rapp’s victims reported the alleged sexual abuse to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, who then launched an extensive investigation revealing several more victims.

JLC was not Rapp’s first church or school assignment.  Rapp was ordained in 1959 and held teaching assignments in Philadelphia (1959 –1961), Salt Lake City (1968 –1973), and in Lockport, New York (1979–1980).  Following Rapp’s resignation at JLC, Rapp served as priest and teacher in Naperville, Illinois (1987–1990) and Duncan, Oklahoma (1990– 1998).

On January 12, 2015, Schuette filed the following charges against James Francis Rapp in Jackson’s 12th District Court:

—Three counts of First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct, a felony punishable by up to life in prison; and,

—10 counts of Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct, a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

If convicted of the first degree sexual assault counts, Rapp must also register as a sex offender for life in Michigan.

Rapp is currently incarcerated in another state for convictions occurring in Oklahoma in 1999.  He is eligible for discharge in summer 2016. Schuette will immediately begin the extradition process to bring Rapp to Michigan to face charges.

Citizens who believe they have information about Rapp’s alleged sexual abuse should contact the AG Criminal Division, 313-456-0180.

Cold Case Sexual Assault Project and Role in Investigation

This case will be prosecuted by Attorney General Schuette’s Cold Case Sexual Assault Project  (AGCCSA).  Created in 2012, AGCCSA is funded by a United States Department of Justice-Office of Violence Against Women grant to combat sexual assault and sexual violence. 

A criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.