Pacific Daily News [Hagåtña, Guam]
September 20, 2022
By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert
Most of Guam’s 270-plus clergy sex abuse claimants turned in their ballots by Monday’s deadline, but there’s no official tally yet whether a majority voted to support or reject the church settlement offer of $37 million to $101 million.
The settlement offer is part of the Archdiocese of Agana’s bankruptcy exit plan that it jointly filed with a panel of creditors led by a survivor of clergy sexual assaults.
Without a majority vote from survivors to support the plan, the archdiocese’s three-year-old bankruptcy case continues, and abuse claimants will have to wait longer to receive compensation.
At least 170 ballots were submitted to court as of Monday. Nearly 100 were submitted by Attorney Delia Lujan Wolff’s law firm, and 77 were submitted to the court by Attorney Michael Berman’s firm.
While all of Berman’s clients voted to support the plan and settlement, there’s no telling how Lujan Wolff’s clients voted. Wolff said others may have sent their ballots directly to the court.
The ballot gives each clergy sexual assault survivor the opportunity to say “yes” or “no” to what the archdiocese is offering to compensate them for the abuses.
More time requested
Attorney Kevin Fowler on Monday asked the court for more time within which the court may receive, by mail, his seven clients’ ballots and releases with original signatures.
In his court filing, Fowler said he was able to turn in the ballots and releases with original signatures of his clients living on Guam, but the same documents from the others who live off-island would take a few more days.
U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood on Tuesday gave parties up to 8 a.m. Wednesday to file any response or objection to Fowler’s “motion to enlarge time to file ballots and releases with original signatures.”
Other law firms didn’t respond to requests for comment as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.
If most abuse survivors vote to support the archdiocese plan, the judge still must confirm it. The confirmation hearing begins Oct. 3.
More than 270 men and women claimed that as children, they were raped or sexually molested by Guam priests and others associated with the Catholic Church, including the Boy Scouts of America.
Haidee Eugenio Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com