Court dismisses Vatican from church sex abuse lawsuit

KUAM Radio [Guam]

February 23, 2023

By Nestor Licanto

The Vatican has been dismissed from a sexual abuse lawsuit filed by an alleged victim of disgraced former archbishop Anthony Apuron.

The Guam District Court found that the Holy See is absolved of certain responsibilities by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

But the 35-page decision and order does provide explicit details of the allegations against the now-defrocked Apuron.

The Holy See, also commonly referred to as the Vatican, was one of several Catholic Church defendants in the lawsuit, which alleged that it was aware of numerous similar sexual abuse acts by then-Archbishop Apuron, and should share in the responsibility.

But Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood granted the Holy See’s motion to dismiss citing among other things, lack of subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction under the foreign sovereign immunities act.

The order with prejudice means the Vatican can’t be sued again for damages by the plaintiff. But contained in the court documents are very specific details of Apuron’s alleged abuse.

It states that the plaintiff was a 14 to 15-year-old freshman at Father Duenas Memorial School in the mid 1990’s, who came from the CNMI. FDMS did not have a boarding school on weekends, and arrangements were made for him to stay with Apuron at his personal residence.

On the very first weekend, the lawsuit alleges that Apuron went to the boy’s bedroom where he pinned him down and sodomized him.

It was the first of many sexual assaults that school year, which the boy did not tell his parents about out of fear and embarrassment.

But court documents allege that the boy was traumatized by the events and demonstrated signs he was being abused which the school administration either intentionally ignored or were negligent.

At the end of the year, the boy returned to his home island, but refused to go back to the school. Instead, he convinced his parents to send him to school in Hawaii where he eventually graduated.

Along with Apuron, the remaining defendants include Father Duenas school, the Archbishop of Agana, and various Capuchin orders.