Abuse case names 2 priests; 1 sued for first time

Guam Daily Post

January 22, 2022

By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

A former Mangilao parish altar boy has accused two priests of sexually abusing him when he was a minor in the early 1980s, and one of the priests is named for the first time in Guam’s clergy sex abuse cases.

In his complaint, the plaintiff said his parents refused to believe that a priest could sexually and physically abuse him when he told them what Rev. J. Michael Morrissey allegedly did to him.

When Morrissey left in 1983, Rev. Andrew Manetta started sexually abusing the plaintiff, the complaint alleges.

The plaintiff, identified in Superior Court documents only with the initials E.E. to protect his privacy, is represented by attorney Anthony C. Perez.

E.E. was an altar boy at Santa Teresita Catholic Church in Mangilao at the time of the alleged abuses. He was about 13 to 17 years old then. 

The defendants in the complaint are the Province of St. Mary of the Capuchin Order, also known as The Capuchin Franciscans, The Province of St. Mary of the Capuchin Order Inc., and up to 20 John Does.

This is the first time Morrissey has been named in nearly 300 Guam clergy sex abuse complaints filed since 2016. 

Manetta, however, has been named multiple times in prior child sex abuse complaints.

Sleepovers at the rectory

Morrisey allegedly sexually abused the latest plaintiff from around 1980 to 1983 when he was the parish priest at the Santa Teresita. The alleged abuses happened during sleepovers at the rectory. The plaintiff also said he and the other boys would “watch TV, hang out and often be plied with wine.” 

“In addition to the sexual assaults, Father Morrissey would also pinch and hit the plaintiff, and whip him with the belt of his cassock,” the complaint states.

Starting around 1983, according to the complaint, Manetta began to sexually abuse and assault the same altar boy.

“The sexual assaults perpetrated by Father Andy, if anything, were even more severe,” the complaint said. “Father Andy’s abuse continued until approximately 1985, when plaintiff ceased being an altar boy and parishioner at Santa Teresita Church, and moved to Hawaii.”

According to E.E.’s complaint, Manetta has been accused of sexual abuse of other children and altar boys, resulting in civil settlements arising out of such abuse.

Priest allegedly gave alcohol to underage boys

“Father Andy has further undergone treatment for sexual issues and alcohol abuse, and has admitted to providing alcohol to minor boys,” the complaint states.

The complaint said although the defendants Province of St. Mary of the Capuchin Order and The Province of St. Mary of the Capuchin Order Inc. knew or should have known of Morrissey and Manetta’s heinous and despicable conduct, they and their representatives, agents and employees failed to take any steps to warn parishioners of the risk of harm to children.

E.E.’s lawsuit also said the defendants failed to adequately supervise and/or prevent the two priests from having contact with children; failed to offer medical treatment, psychological treatment, and/or counseling to the priests’ victims; and failed to laicize or defrock the priests and/or expose them as sexual predators.

Missionary work sends priest to Guam from New York

According to an online publication by the Archdiocese of Portland in 2018, Morrissey was ordained for the Capuchin Franciscans of New York in 1978. In the summer of 1980, Morrissey was assigned as a missionary to Guam, the Archdiocese of Portland said.

“After serving as a pastor in Guam, he transferred from the New York province of the Capuchin Franciscans to the Archdiocese of Portland,” the Archdiocese of Portland said, adding that Morrissey became a retired priest in residence in 2018.

Since 2016, former Guam altar boys started publicly accusing clergy of sexual abuse including then-Archbishop Anthony Apuron, who was eventually stripped of his office and duties after a Vatican tribunal found him guilty of sexual molestation of multiple children.

The Archdiocese of Agana filed for bankruptcy in January 2019 when the claims from sexual abuse complaints ballooned to more than $1 billion. The bankruptcy case is ongoing, and the archdiocese has yet to compensate any of the claimants.