Former Highlands Ranch youth pastor accepts deal in sex case

Capranelli pleads guilty to sexual assault on child, exploitation

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Former Highlands Ranch youth pastor Matthew Capranelli pleaded guilty to one felony count each of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust and sexual exploitation of a child, avoiding a trial that was set to begin this November.

Capranelli, who subjected a former Mountain View Community Church youth group member to sexual contact repeatedly between Oct. 1, 2004 and Aug. 31, 2007 while she was between 15 and 18 years old, will be sentenced Dec. 12 in Douglas County.

He was originally charged with five counts of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust as a pattern of abuse, but agreed to plead guilty to one count, which dropped the pattern of abuse charge.

Per the agreement, reached Oct. 9, Capranelli will be sentenced to a period of 10 years to life in the state’s Sex Offender Intensive Supervision Program for the position of trust charge, and 0-12 years in prison for the sexual exploitation charge.

His two sentences will be served consecutively, meaning if District Court Judge Richard Caschette winds up sentencing him to any time, his probation will not begin until he is released from prison. The former youth pastor also faces the possibility of fines, ranging from $203,000 on the low end, up to $575,000.

“Because he pleaded guilty to sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, he will be registered as a sex offender for the rest of his life,” said Senior Deputy District Attorney Chris Gallo, who prosecuted the case for the 18th Judicial District. “He will never be off the registry.”

Capranelli, 42, is, according to his Facebook page, a resident of Pueblo West. He remains free on a $50,000 bond until the time of his sentencing. One of the bond conditions is that he is not allowed to spend unsupervised time with his three children; ages 6, 11 and 12.