Church submits latest plan to pay clergy abuse claims

Pacific Daily News [Hagåtña, Guam]

May 29, 2022

By Steve Limtiaco

Free Catholic school tuition and cemetery plots are among the proposed compensation the island’s Catholic church wants to give victims of clergy sexual abuse.

The church, which filed for bankruptcy in 2019 as it faced hundreds of abuse lawsuits asking for more than $1 billion in damages, submitted its updated bankruptcy plan May 20. The plan provides more details about how the church intends to compensate victims.

The bankruptcy plan, which the church said will, “bring the greatest measure of justice to the greatest number of victims,” must be approved by a vote of the church’s creditors.

Real estate

The church wants to sign over dozens of pieces of real estate, worth about $18.35 million, to a trust for victim compensation, the bankruptcy plan states.

It also wants to separately sell its chancery office complex in Hagåtña and the church-owned FHP/TakeCare property in Tamuning. The church wants to use $500,000 from the sale of those properties to build replacement chancery offices at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral Basilica. The balance of the money from the sale would be used to pay other claims against the church, the plan states.

The church also will deposit $6.6 million in cash to the trust and $18 million from insurer AIG, which reached a settlement with the church, the plan states.

Tuition vouchers

The church also wants to provide 150 vouchers to cover tuition at the island’s Catholic schools for up to 13 years of education. Three scholarship vouchers would be issued each year at five Archdiocesan elementary schools, and two per year at the Academy of Our Lady of Guam and Father Dueñas Memorial School.

The scholarship vouchers, which must be used within nine years, are for family members of abuse claimants, the plan states.

The church also plans to give the trust 50 cemetery plots at the Pigo Catholic Cemetery, worth about $332,500.

More than 275 people have sued the Archdiocese of Agana, alleging sexual abuse by priests and others associated with the church, after a 2016 Guam law lifted the statute of limitations on civil cases related to child abuse.

“Over the last several decades, many clergy members in the church have violated the sacred trust placed in them by children and their families and the church by committing acts of sexual abuse,” bankruptcy documents state.

“This was left unaddressed for decades. While the abuse went unaddressed by the church, survivors of clergy sexual abuse were ignored, called liars, shamed and felt abandoned by their church. This conduct runs contrary to the teaching and traditions of the church. The Archbishop has publicly stated his apology to survivors of sexual abuse within the Archdiocese for the role the church played in the decades of suffering endured by survivors.”

A law firm — Kramer Law LLC — will review survivor claims and determine how much they will be paid from the trust, based on evaluation factors, the bankruptcy plan states.

The law firm will consider the nature and circumstances of the abuse, and also the impact of the abuse on survivors’ mental health, physical health, spiritual well-being and interpersonal relationships, among other issues, the plan states.

In order to receive compensation, survivors must release all claims against the church.

“Between the various forms of funding for the plan, it is expected the tort claimants will receive the grand total sum of between $37,019,033 and $107,000,000,” the church stated in court documents.Play Video

Reach reporter Steve Limtiaco at