Authorities: Man falsely claimed abuse by priests

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Associated Press

Posted on January 29, 2013 at 1:32 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 30 at 6:02 AM

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A convicted bank robber filed lawsuits from federal prison falsely claiming he was abused as a child by priests in four Catholic dioceses, prosecutors said Tuesday.

A grand jury in Oregon has indicted 49-year-old Shamont Sapp on charges of mail fraud. The indictment alleges that Sapp filed claims in courts over a five-year period alleging abuse by specific priests in the dioceses of Tucson, Ariz.; Covington, Ky.; and Spokane, Wash., as well as the Archdiocese of Portland, Ore.

It says the priests Sapp named didn't abuse him, and his claims were dismissed or denied. The indictment says the accusations caused the church, several courts and other entities to spend time and money.

Prosecutors say Sapp alleged abuse by priests in two cities on the same day in 1978.

Federal Bureau of Prisons records show Sapp is on parole in Pennsylvania. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Peifer said he's in custody in Cumberland County and scheduled to appear in court in Harrisburg on Wednesday. The government wants him tried in Portland.

Court records don't list an attorney for Sapp.

Sapp's claim against the Portland archdiocese was filed in 2008 and demanded $10 million. It was litigated for more than two years before he withdrew it, writing "there's too much corruption for me to deal with." Seeking to dismiss the case, lawyers for the archdiocese wrote in 2010 that Sapp had made similar abuse allegations in courts around the country.

Shamont pleaded guilty to bank robbery charges in 1996. A federal judge in Pennsylvania sentenced him to more than 13 years in prison.

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