Catholic Priest Shot to Death After Being Exposed in Child Abuse Scandal
New Jersey priest found dead in Nevada home with gun shot wound to the neck
A former New Jersey Catholic priest, who was recently exposed in a Church child abuse scandal for allegations he abused dozens of children, has been found shot to death in his Nevada home, according to reports.
70-year-old John Capparelli fled his home state for Las Vegas after accusations surfaced that he had molested multiple underage boys during his time as a clergy member from 1980 to 1992.
Capparelli had been accused by at least two-dozen men of sexually abusing them when they were children.
The allegations included groping and forcing young boys to wrestle in swimsuits while he photographed the encounters, according to NJ.com.
Capparelli continued working with children as a public school teacher, even after he was suspended from the church in 1992.
The Star-Ledger reported on the past allegations against the ex-priest in 2011 and also revealed his ties to the operation of a fetish website, bringing his teaching career to an abrupt end.
Last month, allegations of clerical abuse against Capparelli were exposed when his name appeared on a list of 188 members of the clergy, who were “credibly accused” of abusing children, that was released by New Jersey’s five Catholic dioceses.
A month later, he was killed in Nevada, where he had been living since 2016.
Authorities in Henderson have not released any details about possible suspects or motives.
The ex-priest’s death comes as dioceses nationwide begin to excavate decades of abuse allegations and coverups.
“The world is a safer place without him,” Rich Fitter, one of Capparelli’s accusers, told NJ.com.
“The guy had a 40-year record of abuse. Whatever lead to his death, it’s a certain amount of karma.”
According to the Daily Wire, police conducted a welfare check on John Capparelli on Saturday and found him dead in the kitchen with a gunshot wound to the neck.
"The Clark County Coroner's Office said Capparelli, 70, died from a single gunshot wound to the neck," NBC News reports.
Police told the press they did not yet have a suspect.
The list, released by New Jersey’s Catholic dioceses, describes Capparelli as having been accused of abusing "multiple" victims and having been "permanently removed from ministry."
Among the places he was assigned was a prep school in Summit, New Jersey.
The list contains the following information about Capparelli (formatting adjusted):
- Name: John Capparelli
- Dates: Born 1948; Ordained 1980
- Our Lady of Fatima, North Bergen
- Oratory Prep, Summit
- Holy Trinity, Westfield
- St. Theresa, Kenilworth
- Temporary Chaplain - Valley Hospital, Ridgewood
- Victims: Multiple
- Status: Permanently removed from ministry/Laicized
The former priest was never convicted of a crime, but was removed from ministry in 1992 after multiple accusers came forward to accuse him of "groping and brutalizing teen boys," NJ.com reported in 2014.
The sex abuse claims against Capparelli date back to the 1970s through the early 1990s.
"Though he was never convicted of a crime, multiple accusers said Capparelli made them wrestle in swimwear while he took photos," NJ.com noted in its report on his death.
"He was also linked to a fetish website that he allegedly ran from his home."
After being laicized, Capparelli went on to be a public school teacher in Newark for about two decades, NJ.com reports.
He had his teaching certificates revoked after reports about the allegations surfaced.
Capparelli made headlines in May 2014 after his presence at an event in Wayne, New Jersey resulted in the suspension of the pastor who allegedly invited him as a personal guest.
The Catholic Church has been reeling from a flood of accusations against hundreds of clergy.
Amid mounting pressure, the Newark archdiocese released in mid-February its list of nearly 190 priests credibly accused of abusing minors.
"The lists released Wednesday identified priests and deacons who served in the dioceses of Camden, Trenton, Metuchen and Paterson and the Archdiocese of Newark," CBS New York reported at the time.
"Many priests on the lists are deceased, and others have been removed from ministry."
As is the case with Capparelli, some of the allegations go back decades.
In August 2018, a Pennsylvania grand jury identified over 300 credibly accused "predator priests" whose total victims allegedly top 1,000, CBS reported.
"Today, the most comprehensive report on child sexual abuse within the church ever produced in our country was released," Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said.
"Pennsylvanians can finally learn the extent of sexual abuse in these dioceses.
"For the first time, we can all begin to understand the systematic cover-up by church leaders that followed.
"The abuse scarred every diocese. The cover-up was sophisticated.
"The church protected the institution at all costs."