Guam church abuse scandal deepens as law change considered
Guam church abuse scandal deepens as hearing considers legislation to lift statute of limitations on civil lawsuits against those accused of child sexual abuse.
The abuse scandal that's rocked the Catholic Church in Guam has deepened with new allegations of misconduct by church members in the 1950s.
In June a temporary administrator was appointed to the church after Archbishop Anthony Apuron was accused of molesting or raping four altar boys in the 1970s.
The latest accusations were made by 73 year-old Leo Tudela during a hearing considering legislation to lift time restrictions on civil lawsuits against those accused of child sexual abuse.
Jo O'Brien talked to Pacific News Center Assistant Director Janela Carrera about his claims
JANELA CARRERA: According to him, he has been molested twice by two different priests, and then he also says that he and a couple of other boys, when they were young, were made to do some illicit sexual acts and this was part of the boy scouts, but it was handled by the church. So on three separate occasions he said this happened and he said that he reported it to some other officials but nothing was ever done about it. So he brought that up during the hearing for Bill 326; the bill, if passed, lifts the statute of limitations for pursuing civil action against the church.
JO O'BRIEN: And what's been their reaction to this latest claim?
JC: There was a lot of talk, people knew going into the hearing that there was another victim coming forward, many were expecting that it was going to be another alleged victim of Archbishop Apuron - it turned out it wasn't. However, I think for some it was actually just, if not more, horrible because it was a systemic problem. It was almost like a corporate problem within the church, a huge cover up because it happened twice, and it also happened with multiple other altar servers, it happened in front of other clergy officials and nothing was done about it. So it almost sounded like there was an entire church cover up at the time, back in the 1950s.
JO'B: And the hearing, does that look as though this lifting of the statute of limitations will go ahead?
JC: There seems to be a lot of support for it. I think there is a lot of pressure to move forward with it just because of the public outcry. I wouldn't be surprised if this actually pushed through. We could see this passed by the end of the month or even some time in September.
JO'B: And this is occurring while the church does seem to be taking some steps following on from the allegations against the archbishop, what's happening there?
JC: So I actually sat down with Archbishop Savio Tai Fai, the temporary apostolic administrator, and we had a chat. Archbishop Hon has made it clear that his primary mission is to bring serenity and to close the gap and try to heal the wounds within the church. So he's made an open call to meet with the victims, but the likelihood that that the attorney of the four victims would allow that meeting to take place is very low given the fact that they're now in litigation. So at this point I think they're kind of saying it's too little too late now.
JO'B: And he has made an announcement regarding policy in the event of sexual misconduct. Is this seen as significant?
JC: It is pretty significant, the policy hasn't been touched in 14 years. Archbishop Hon, his policy change was to make it so that if the bishop or the archbishop is accused, then he would have to immediately recuse himself and then a moderator would have to step in and present the case to the Holy See. So that's new; had it been effectuated maybe a year ago it would have helped given that Archbishop Apuron was accused. But now that, kind of, after the fact, I don't know whether any other archbishop will be accused again. Now, it just kind of says, for the people I think it's significant because it kind of says that, you know, 'while we are listening, we are going to change the policy, we understand that there were flaws within it, we're listening.' I think that's the significance in this.
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