Memories stirred after shocking report of priest sex abuse in Pennsylvania


SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) –  Charlie Colosimo was told to keep quiet.
And so he did.

His secret was never revealed until his brother, Ralph and himself filed a lawsuit against the Salt Lake Catholic Diocese, Judge Memorial and other Catholic organizations in 2003.
The brother claimed they were sexually molested by a priest, Father James Rapp, in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

“It (silence) was the worst bit of advice I ever received,” said Charlie Colosimo.

The lawsuit was dismissed because of the statute of limitations. 

But the recent discovery of possibly more victims of priest abuse in Pennsylvania stirred Colosimo’s memory.  His brother, Ralph died in 2015.  

In Pennsylvania, a grand jury issued a shocking report of more than 1,000 victims by 300 priests were covered up by leaders of the dioceses which oversee Catholic churches.

“My first reaction was sadness, just incredible sadness and incredible empathy,” said Colosimo.  “It was almost as if something had been unearthed again and one of my first responses was ‘my gosh when is this going to stop.'”

Colosimo and his brother were devout catholics.  They attended elementary Catholic schools before attending Judge Memorial High School.

That’s where one of the teachers befriended Ralph.

In their lawsuit, they accused Rapp of sexually first Ralph and then Charlie.

He said Rapp used weapons to keep him silent.

“Part of his m.o. (method of operation) was to threaten me with weapons,” he said. “That was part of his deal.  He said he was a retired FBI agent and he had struck fear in me for so long and at that time, I remembered saying to myself  ‘I don’t care if I make it out of here alive. I know that I’m going to make it out.'” 

That was the last time he ever saw Rapp as a teenager.  But he never reported the crime.

He said for many years he was bitter towards the catholic church.  But therapy allowed him to channel his anger.  And he now said he has no animosity towards the church but is no longer a practicing Catholic.
“In order for you to move forward you have to establish that people do support you,” he said. “People do care about you.”

He said there are many organizations in Utah that help victims of sex abuse.  He said the staff at Road to Recovery helped restore his life.

As for Rapp, he was eventually criminally charged for molesting boys in Oklahoma and Michigan after leaving Salt Lake City.  He is serving up to 40 years in a Michigan prison.

Colosimo said he felt guilty for never reporting to police what happened to him.  In his mind, he felt like it allowed Rapp to hurt others.

But he went to Rapp’s parole hearing in Michigan testifying against early release which was denied.
And it was there, Rapp’s other victims made him feel whole again.

“For them to say it wasn’t your fault, that it happened to us, it meant even more,” he said.

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