Former Highlands Ranch youth pastor Matthew Capranelli was sentenced to eight years in prison for repeated acts of sexual assault on a female member of the Mountain View Community Church youth group between 2004 and 2007.
Capranelli, who was the girl’s counselor as well as youth pastor, was sentenced Dec. 12 in Castle Rock. 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 in October, he agreed to plead guilty to one count, dropping the pattern of abuse charge, while also pleading guilty to one count of sexual exploitation of a child.
Capranelli, now 42, was arrested in November 2012. He spoke through tears at the sentencing, offering an apology to the victim, who was 15 years old when the abuse started.
In addressing the court, he referred to himself as a “fallen from grace pastor” that was “willing to accept any and all consequences” for his actions.
“Never in my wildest nightmares did I imagine I would be responsible for hurting an innocent victim like this,” he said. “It is my prayer that God can bring peace and healing to you and your families, but I know a simple ‘I am sorry’ is not a band aid for a gaping wound like the one I’ve caused.”
The victim, now 24, asked the court to give Capranelli the maximum 12 years he faced, saying she has already had to serve a nine-year sentence because of his actions.
“He knowingly perpetrated those crimes against me,” she said. “And he continued to make comments of the consequences he would face if someone found out. ... No matter how much therapy I go through, those scars will never leave me.”
Judge Richard Caschette gave the defendant eight years, stating that while he appears to have shown some sense of remorse and have some redeeming characteristics, “in respect to the victim in this case, it is clear that he also has a dark side.” Caschette said that Capranelli “abused that dark side and his position of trust to prey upon the victim’s innocence.”
“We want to promote respect for the law and send a message to community that this kind of crime is heinous and will not be tolerated,” the judge said.
Once Capranelli is released from prison, he will spend between 10 years and life in the state’s Sex Offender Intensive Supervision Program and he will be a registered sex offender for as long as he lives. He will not be allowed to spend time with grandchildren or any other children under the age of 18 until he is cleared to do so.