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Ex-Priest Pleads No Contest To Abusing Jackson Students

JACKSON, Mich. (WWJ/AP) - A former Roman Catholic priest has pleaded no contest to sexual abuse charges connected to his years at a Michigan high school in the 1980s.

James Rapp likely faces at least 20 years in prison, although the 75-year-old already is in prison for similar crimes in Oklahoma.

Defense attorney Alfred Brandt told a Jackson County judge that Rapp coerced students into having sexual contact while working as a teacher and wrestling coach at Lumen Christi High School. He appeared in court Monday.

An investigation began three years ago when victims approached the sheriff's department. Attorney General Bill Schuette says teens were "robbed of a normal childhood" by Rapp.

Rapp was told to leave that school in 1987 following allegations a student was molested, according to Schuette, and then was sentenced to prison in 1999 for sexually abusing teenage boys in Oklahoma.

Schuette said Rapp, who was ordained in 1959, also held teaching assignments in New York, Philadelphia and  Illinois during his time as a priest, and authorities are concerned there may have been more victims.

Rapp was defrocked as a priest. He will be sentenced on April 29.

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