Former New Jersey priest, credibly accused of abuse, shot dead

Former New Jersey priest, credibly accused of abuse, shot dead

Credit: Unsplash.
Credit: Unsplash.

.- John Capparelli, a former priest of the Archdiocese of Newark, was found dead in his Nevada home Saturday. Caparelli had been included in a list of clerics credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors released last month.

Capparelli, 70, was found dead in his kitchen March 9 with “a single gunshot wound to the neck”, the New York Times reported. His death is being investigated as a homicide. According to The Star-Ledger, his body was found about 5:10 p.m.

He lived in Henderson, part of the Las Vegas metropolitan area. He had purchased the Nevada home in 2016.

According to the New York Times, the Henderson police have not yet identified a suspect, but are “following up on developed leads.”

The Newark archdiocese released Feb. 13 a list of clerics credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors. Capparelli was among the 63 names.

Capparelli was ordained in 1980, and was assigned at three parishes, a prep school, and as a temporary chaplain at a hospital. The school, Oratory Prep in Summit, N.J., currently serves boys in grades 7-12.

According to the archdiocese’s list, Capparelli had multiple victims, and had been “Permanently removed from ministry/Laicized”. Accusations against him date from the 1970s through the early 1990s. The Star-Ledger reported that he was removed from parish ministry in 1989, suspended from any ministry in 1992, and was dismissed from the clerical state around 2013.

In 2011, the archdiocese said that though he had not been dismissed from the clerical state, he was not receiving a stipend.

In 1993, one year after being suspended from ministry, Capparelli became a public school teacher in Newark. In 2011 he was teaching math to ninth graders, according to The Star-Ledger.

The Newark school district learned of the allegations from the The Star-Ledger in 2011, and reviewed his record, but said there were no allegations against his time as a teacher. Spokeswoman Renee Harper said, “we will remain vigilant in ensuring student safety for all of our kids acting in accordance of the law.” He was soon after removed from the classroom and given an administrative position at the school district’s headquarters. Harper said that “he has not been demoted and remains an employee in good standing.”

He also served as an adjunct professor at Seton Hall University from 1990 to 2009, The Star-Ledger found.

Capparelli was never prosecuted or convicted of a crime, but he was at the center of lawsuits against himself, the Newark archdiocese, Theodore McCarrick, and the Boy Scouts of America. He was accused of groping, abusing, and photographing underage males, often in the context of wrestling.

He was the subject of at least two lawsuits in 2011.

One suit alleged that Capparelli sexually abused Andrew Dundorf for more than 10 years in the 1970s and ‘80s.

Another suit, filed by Rich Fitter, said that Capparelli groped, photographed, and brutalized him from his fifteenth to his seventeenth year. Fitter came to a settlement with Capparelli and the Newark archdiocese.

Capparelli was also accused of the embezzlement of about $30,000 by a business for which he worked part-time as a bookkeeper in the late 1980s. According to The Star-Ledger, the business heads “decided not to press charges” after meeting with the Archbishop of Newark, Theodore McCarrick, and after Capparelli’s family repaid the money.

He was sent to a treatment center in Jemez Springs, N.M., for several months in 1989, “on McCarrick’s recommendation.”

Tags: Murder, Clerical sex abuse, Archdiocese of Newark, Sexual abuse of minors, Theodore McCarrick