Mercer County Commission

PRINCETON — Members of the Mercer County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to rescind a resolution which honored a recently deceased former county official who was also a convicted sex offender.

The commission passed a resolution Nov. 26 honoring the late John K. Rapp Sr. This resolution cited his service in the United States Air Force, 22-years of service with the West Virginia State Police, being the police chief in Athens for 12 years and his service with the West Virginia Parole Board.

News of the resolution was published in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph and by a local television station. The day after the resolution was passed, a private citizen contacted the county commission and asked that the resolution be rescinded because Rapp had been convicted in 2000 with a sexual assault charge involving a 15-year-old girl. 

Rapp was charged in October 1999 on a 13-count indictment that included nine counts of third-degree sexual assault, two counts of burglary and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The charges stemmed from a relationship Rapp was having with a 15-year-old girl, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph reported at the time.

In April 2000, Rapp pleaded guilty to one felony count of third-degree sexual assault and a misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Rapp, then 58, was sentenced in July 2000 by then Mercer County Circuit Court Judge David Knight to one to five years on the sexual assault charge.

County Commission President Gene Buckner and Commissioner Bill Archer said after the citizen’s message that they would vote to rescind the resolution, and said they were unaware of and did not remember Rapp’s conviction. 

The county commission routinely honor past commissioners for their service. Rapp passed away Nov. 10 at the age of 79.

Commissioner Greg Puckett said after the resolution had been passed that it was protocol to “honor servitude in Mercer County. We in no way condone negative personal behavior following that time of service.”

Buckner, Archer and Puckett voted unanimously Tuesday during the county commission’s December meeting to rescind the resolution honoring Rapp.

“The biggest reason I decided to rescind is because I found out exactly what the people of the county wanted,” Buckner said after the meeting. “We had a lot of phone calls that were kind of negative to what we did and we try to do what the people of the county want.”

Buckner said that rescinding the resolution removes it from the county’s record.

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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