Former Niagara County priest accused of sexual abuse

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Former Buffalo Diocesan priest Fr. Joseph Rappl is accused of sexually abusing an 11-year-old boy in 1981.

News 4 heard from the alleged victim Thursday; he is 48-years-old and currently living out of state. We spoke to him via phone from a Buffalo restaurant. 

“I was very confused. I don’t know, I couldn’t process it. I was 11,” the alleged victim said. 

While the alleged victim has asked to publicly remain anonymous, News 4 has verified his identity. 

He says the abuse occurred at St. Peter’s Church in Lewiston.

Joseph Rappl, who is a volunteer at a Catholic youth camp called Camp Turner in Cattaraugus County, lives in North Carolina and is married according to is LinkedIn profile. 

Diocsean records show Rappl served at St. Peter’s until 1982 and then was moved to St. Catherine of Siena Church in West Seneca. 

Rappl later served at St. Mary’s Church in Holley and then after that as a military chaplain with the Diocese of Buffalo. 

News 4 has reached out to Mr. Rappl for a comment on these allegations and have not heard back. 

The Buffalo Diocese says these allegations are new, but that they will be thoroughly investigated. 

Rappl is not on the list of accused priests released by the Buffalo Diocese last month. 

Camp Turner released this statement on its Facebook page Friday afternoon:

“You may have heard that there is a recent allegation pertaining to alleged misconduct in 1981 in Lewiston, NY, against Mr. Joseph Rappl, who has been a volunteer at Camp Turner for the past few years. We were not aware of any such allegations against him until April 5, 2018. Mr. Rappl will have no involvement at Camp Turner while this matter is investigated.

We know of no misconduct allegations against any current volunteers or staff at Camp Turner . We want to reassure you that the safety and well-being of children and staff entrusted to our care is of utmost importance at all times.”

The alleged victim reported his claim to the Buffalo Diocese in March 2018 via his spokesperson, Mitchell Garabedian.

He spoke to the media along with Garabedian, and Dr. Robert Hoatson, a former priest and founder of Road to Recovery, Inc., an advocacy organization for victims of sexual abuse by clergy. 

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