Church Official: Archbishop Apuron Innocent
By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno
Pacific Daily News
December 4, 2014
Archbishop Anthony Apuron is innocent of the sexual molestation allegation that has been publicly raised against him, and there’s no need for the Archdiocese of Agana to investigate it, a deacon in charge of coordinating sex abuse reports said this morning.
Deacon Larry Claros, the archdiocese’s newly appointed sexual abuse response coordinator, said he believes the archbishop is innocent “for sure.”
There’s no need to investigate the allegation at this point, Claros said.
An archdiocese review committee did meet and will issue a statement soon, he said.
|Archbishop accuser John Toves speaks outside the Archdiocese of Agana Chancery this morning. / Masako Watanabe/Pacific Daily News|
Claros made the statement outside the archdiocese’s Chancery after having briefly met with John Toves, a 50-year-old man who made the allegation and sent letters about it to Vatican officials recently.
Toves went to the Chancery to see Apuron.
Father Adrian Cristobal, who has been speaking for the archbishop, stepped out of his office to say Apuron wasn’t available.
When Toves asked -- in the presence of reporters -- to see Claros instead, Cristobal called Claros to meet with Toves.
Toves said when he was a 16-year-old altar boy, Toves’ relative and co-seminarian at a high school seminary on Guam was allegedly sexually abused. The alleged victim was also an altar boy, according to Toves' allegation.
Toves said Apuron was a parish priest in Agat at the time. Toves' family is from Agat.
Toves has been living in San Francisco, and hasn’t been back home on Guam for 30 years until he arrived earlier this week with the goal of seeing Apuron about the allegation.
Toves acknowledged people will have questions about the timing of the allegation. Decades have passed between the time of the alleged abuse and his public allegation.
He said as a devout Catholic, he kept quiet about it for a long time, but added he reached a “boiling point” to speak out against Apuron after the recent controversies in the local Catholic church leadership.
Toves said he wants Apuron to step down and for Monsignor James Benavente to be reinstated as rector of the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica in Hagatna.
He said his allegation of sex abuse, and the local church’s leadership controversies, are “intertwined.”
In the allegation raised by Toves, the victim hasn’t stepped forward to make the claim, Claros said.
The church's priority is to help the victim of any abuse -- if there is one, he said.
Claros said Toves needs to report his allegation to civil authorities.
Toves said his relative had a “breakdown” when both of them moved on from the high school seminary on Guam to a college seminary in Los Altos, California.
The relative told church officers at the California seminary of the alleged abuse, Toves said.
Toves said he hasn’t spoken to his relative about his decision to publicly accuse Apuron.
Toves also said his family is torn about his decision, saying his father supports it, but his mother no longer speaks to him.
While on Guam, Toves said he’s asking other victims of sex abuse involving a Church official to meet with him to have a unified voice.
As he was talking to reporters, he received a phone call from a family that may want to talk about an abuse, he said.
In 2010, legislation introduced by Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz and signed into Public Law No. 31-7 opened a two-year window for past victims of child sexual abuse to file civil suit in the Superior Court of Guam.
For criminal cases, there's no time limit to pursue a case against an alleged sexual abuse case involving a victim up to the age of 18, or an adult who has a disability comparable to that of an adolescent, based on Public Law No. 31-6, according to Cruz's office in a previous interview.