SDA church and officials sued for $1.5M for roles in alleged abuse

Guam Daily Post

January 2, 2022

By Phill Leon Guerrero

An attorney who represented multiple people allegedly sexually abused by local Catholic priests is now seeking damages against another religious institution: the Guam-Micronesia Mission of Seventh-day Adventists.

According to a lawsuit filed Dec. 31, 2021, by attorney David Lujan, the new case stems from misconduct alleged to have occurred in June 2012.

At that time, the victim in the suit, a U.S. citizen identified only as a man with the initials “AA,” came to Guam from the Philippines to complete his high school education.

The man, who was 16 years old in 2012, became acquainted with Danny Dial, who was serving as the church’s director, according to court documents.

“Since Dial was from Mindanao in the Philippines where AA was also from, and both speaking the same dialect, Dial asked AA’s guardian if AA could stay with him a few days so he could take AA and show him Agana and other parts of Guam since AA had nothing to do during the summer,” according to the lawsuit.

Dial allegedly told the teen they would be sleeping on the same bed because someone else was using the apartment’s second bedroom. The victim, however, did not encounter any other person in the residence that evening.

Later, at Dial’s insistence, the two prayed together.

“After praying, Dial asked AA if AA ever had sex and whether AA masturbated. AA did not respond to the question,” the suit alleges. “Dial then informed AA that the conversation was only ‘man-talk’ and that Dial was only curious. Again, AA did not respond and became alarmed at the conversation.”

Dial allegedly offered AA pornography, and began to tell AA about another teenager he “was supporting.”

The conversation led “AA to feel that Dial was attempting to seduce, entice him financially, and be his sweetheart,” court documents state.

After a few minutes in bed, Dial allegedly began to sexually abuse the teen, which lasted throughout the night, and attempted to have AA perform sexual acts on him.

“The following morning, … before he left for work, Dial instructed AA to keep the events a ‘secret’ and not to answer the telephone,” the suit alleges.

Instead, the teen called one of his guardians to pick him up, and recounted the abuse to them.

Pastors involved

Within the next several days, Steven Silva, a pastor at SDA, allegedly found out about the abuse allegation.

Silva allegedly suggested AA contact Dial by phone to “entrap” him. Silva also contacted AA, according to court documents, to recount his abuse in a signed letter.

AA eventually met with Pastor Louis Torres, who served as the church’s president from 2009 through 2020.

During that meeting, according to the suit, “Torres asked AA in an accusatory tone ‘if AA sells his body for money.'”

The accusation made the teen uncomfortable, concluding the pastor wanted to minimize his claim or didn’t believe his story.

Dial “fled” Guam within a few days of that meeting, without church officials reporting the alleged abuse to authorities, according to the suit.

“On information and belief, subsequent to leaving Guam, Dial has been teaching at a school owned by the SDA in the Kingdom of Thailand, apparently being moved from one SDA school to another,” the lawsuit states.

Lujan also is alleging the church recently reported to the SDA school in Thailand “that Dial is a ‘pedophile.'”

‘Extreme and outrageous’

AA is seeking at least $1.5 million in damages, accusing the named defendants and unnamed church entities of charges related to child sexual abuse, battery and assault; negligence; breach of fiduciary duty and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

“The acts and conduct of the Church (and other defendants) in providing Dial, a known sexual predator to children, with direct access to children including AA, and refusing to report or stop his sexual abuses, were extreme and outrageous,” the lawsuit states.