From a culture of silence to cover-ups: How Guam ended up with 280 clergy sex abuse claims

Pacific Daily News

Oct. 27, 2019

By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

A 9-year-old boy confided in his grandmother on several occasions that the parish priest was sexually abusing him.

The grandmother spanked the boy, identified in court documents only by C.B.D. to protect his privacy. She lectured him that the priest was “God’s representative and not capable of such actions.”

“Unfortunately, due to priests being held to such a high level of respect and stature, it was unheard of them to be capable of committing immoral behavior such as child sexual abuse,” Vincent P. Pereda, a board-certified clinical social worker, said.

The same story is repeated in many clergy sex abuse claims. Pereda said preserving the family’s honor became more important than protecting children.

“You certainly didn’t want a family to be known as accusing a priest, the spiritual leader of a parish community, of misconduct of any form,” he said.

This unquestioned reverence for priests and a “culture of silence” contributed to nearly 280 of Guam’s children being raped and molested by priests and others associated with the Catholic Church from the 1950s to as late as 2013.

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