Popular preacher Fr. John Corapi has been accused of sexual and financial wrongdoing.

CNS PHOTO | PATRICK NOVECOSKY

Popular preacher Fr. John Corapi has been accused of sexual and financial wrongdoing.

July 18, 2011
NANCY FRAZIER O'BRIEN
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

Father John Corapi was involved in "years of cohabitation" with a former prostitute, repeated abuse of alcohol and drugs and "serious violation" of his promise of poverty, according to a fact-finding team appointed by his religious order.

Corapi has been ordered by the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity to return to live at the order's regional headquarters in Robstown, Texas, and to dismiss a lawsuit against the woman whose accusations prompted the investigation.

Corapi recently announced he would leave the priesthood because he could not get a "fair hearing" on misconduct allegations against him,

"Catholics should understand that (the order) does not consider Father John Corapi as fit for ministry," said a July 5 news release from Father Gerard Sheehan, regional priest servant for the order, commonly known as SOLT.

Although Corapi's ministry "has inspired thousands of faithful Catholics," the news release said, he is "now misleading these individuals through his false statements and characterizations.

The order said its three-member fact-finding team had gathered information "from Father Corapi's emails, various witnesses and public sources" and had concluded that the priest:

  • "Did have sexual relations and years of cohabitation (in California and Montana) with a woman known to him, when the relationship began, as a prostitute."
  • "Repeatedly abused alcohol and drugs."
  • Has engaged in sexting activity with one or more women in Montana."
  • "Holds legal title to over $1 million in real estate, numerous luxury vehicles, motorcycles, an ATV, a boat dock and several motor boats, which is a serious violation of his promise of poverty as a perpetually professed member of this society."

As the team was carrying out its work, Corapi filed a civil suit against his principal accuser and then offered $100,000 for her silence, the news release said.

When the fact-finding team asked Corapi to dismiss the lawsuit and release individuals from their obligations to remain silent, he refused to do so and, through his canonical advocate, said he could not answer the team's questions "at this time," the news release added.

Corapi, 64, announced June 17 in a YouTube video and blog posting that he would leave the priesthood.

CORAPI RESPONDS

He later issued a website posting responding to the SOLT news release.

In the July 7 posting, Corapi denied committing sexual improprieties with a former female employee. He also said the founder of SOLT told him to support himself and his ministry financially.

In a lawsuit filed April 4, Corapi accuses Tamra Sexton, a former employee of his company, Santa Cruz Media Inc., of writing a letter that contained "numerous false, malicious and unprivileged statements." The suit denied allegations that Corapi had sex with Sexton and other women, punched Sexton in the face, bought and used drugs and had a "new mistress."

Corapi did not address the lawsuit in his posting, but denied offering to pay "anybody off to remain silent."

Several calls from Catholic News Service to Sheehan and Corapi and his attorneys were not returned.

Corapi had been highly visible for several years as a speaker and preacher, including a program on the Eternal Word Television Network. EWTN took his show off its schedule shortly after his suspension.