Accused Priest Denies Allegations, Departs Guam

By Gaynor Dumat-Ol Daleno
Pacific Islands Report
July 24, 2014

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, July 24, 2014) – A day after he was stripped of authority as a Guam priest over child molestation allegations in Los Angeles, Father John Howard Wadeson has left the island.

Wadeson stated he's been falsely accused, but decided to leave because he didn't want the accusations against him to tarnish Archbishop Anthony Apuron.

"I was in such shock at the viciousness and lies of what was being said about me and our archbishop, whom I hold in great esteem, that I was lost for words," Wadeson stated, in response to the Pacific Daily News' request for comment.

"For the good of the church, I thought it best that I leave the country, albeit with a very heavy heart, so that these false accusations that are being leveled at me do not become weapons to use against our archbishop or the Church of Guam," he stated.

"I will continue to pray for our church, our archbishop as well as for those who attack him," Wadeson stated.

Wadeson left yesterday morning, said Father Pablo Ponce, rector of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary. where Wadeson had been staying.

The Archdiocese of Agana announced Tuesday that Apuron has removed Wadeson from "active and public ministry" in response to "concerns in the community."

"The Archdiocese of Agana has a policy regarding sexual misconduct and sexual harassment and takes these matters seriously," the local archdiocese stated.

On Saturday, a global support group for clergy abuse victims called on Apuron to follow the Los Angeles archdiocese's ban on Wadeson.

The local Catholic church leadership has not responded to follow-up questions over the past two days as to when the archdiocese knew of the allegations against Wadeson in Los Angeles.

2004 report

A decade ago, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Office of the Archbishop issued a report acknowledging accusations of clergy sex abuse and offering an apology.

That 2004 report lists Wadeson's name among 113 priests who were accused of sexual abuse in a 75-year span in the archdiocese, out of more than 5,000 priests who served there.

The report states two reports against Wadeson were filed, but those did not end up in court.

Action and allegation

The gap between Apuron's decision removing Wadeson from the local archdiocese and the decade-old ban against the priest in California wasn't a surprise to a Manila-based priest who was a seminarian on Guam.

Father Matthew Blockley, who was a priest in Saipan, said he blew the whistle on then-Guam priest Ray Cepeda in 1992.

In 2010, the Archdiocese of Agana announced that Cepeda had been removed from the priesthood in December 2009 after a church investigation of "serious allegations" of sexual abuse, Pacific Daily News files show.

The archdiocese confirmed in 2010 that the alleged sexual abuse happened years earlier -- in 1990 -- and involved a single person who was first thought to be a minor. The victim turned out to be 18 at the time of the abuse, according to the archdiocese.

"I went to Apuron in 1992 as a seminarian, so it must have been ... years before he acted there," Blockley stated in an email regarding the timing of the Cepeda allegations.

Blockley questioned why Wadeson was incardinated, or officially accepted to become a priest, under the local archdiocese.

A process of checking the background and meeting procedural requirements before priests can be incardinated into an archdiocese would have, or should have, occurred, Blockley added.

When an archbishop incardinates any priest, "he consults the previous bishop or superior by letter," Blockley stated. "As a norm, a priest would live and work in a diocese for five years, this way he knows the life and culture of a local church, and the local church knows him," according to Blockley.

San Francisco

Wadeson stated in another email that in March 2013 he was also accepted into the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

He said the San Francisco archdiocese "asked about my being named on the list of accused in the Los Angeles Archdiocese."

The San Francisco Archdiocese's provincial superior, Father Thomas Ascheman, wrote that "the allegation was never substantiated, no formal accusation was ever made, and no settlement was offered, or made," Wadeson stated.


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