Allegations Persist against Catholic Church

By Lannie Walker
April 8, 2010

Guam - The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests continues its push for Archbishop Anthony Apuron to come forward and break his silence on the issue of sexual abuse, as they say more and more allegations of sexual abuse are surfacing. After hearing stories from more than a dozen survivors on Guam who have reached out to SNAP, the organization's southwest regional director sent a third letter to the leader of the island's Catholic faithful.

Joelle Casteix this time wrote, "Once again, the simple requests of victims of sexual abuse have fallen on deaf ears. We have sent letters imploring you to reach out to hurting men and women in your churches. We have asked for transparency and change."

SNAP is asking the archbishop to: -Make public the named of all accused priests who have ever worked on Guam,

-Explain if and why a prominent local priest is currently in the process of laicization,

-Turn over secret documents that outline abuse allegations and actions taken by church officials,

-Make public all information about abuse on Guam disclosed to officials in other dioceses

Speaking to KUAM News from California today, Casteix said, "So in this letter we are asking for tangible information we are hearing a prominent local priest is currently being defrocked because of sexual abuse allegations. The archbishop needs to address this and be transparent about it."

The Archdiocese of Agana has yet to respond to Castiex's letters, but KUAM News was informed today a response will be issued early next week.

Spokesperson for the Archdiocese Deacon Jeff Barcinas says he did receive Castiex;s third letter, but declined to answer questions on-camera today, saying he is waiting for capuchins in White Plains, New York to respond to the organization's initial allegations surrounding Father Randy Nowak, who was accused of sexual abuse there, but was then transferred to Guam, where he worked at just about every parish on the island.

"We have a great deal of frustration," Casteix noted, "after now two letters, there has been no real response from the Archdiocese."

SNAP has now raised allegations against former Santa Barbara priest Father Raymond Cepeda. Casteix is asking the Archdiocese if and why Cepeda was laicized (removed from the clergy). KUAM News attempted to contact Fr. Cepeda today, but we were told he has not worked there for five years.

Deacon Barcinas would not comment on the allegation of Fr. Cepeda being defrocked, only confirming he'd received SNAP's latest letter today.

With or without a response from the Archdiocese, Casteix isn't giving up her efforts to establish a support network on Guam, as she intends to return to the island in the next six to eight weeks. She says the next step is going to law enforcement. She's hopeful laws are passed to allow victims a one-year window to report sexual abuse, no matter when the abuse took place.

The filing of reports with the civil justice system, she says, will flush out the information she is requesting. "The discovery process forces the archdiocese to open their files and tell what they new about child abuse, and I'm afraid that is the only way to get the archdiocese to come clean is by the point of a legal gun", Casteix said.

Of note is that Casteix says the allegations of sexual abuse stemmed from parishes in Sinajana, Tamuning, Agat and Yona. She tells KUAM News that the victims were men and women, and boys and girls, who reported the alleged abuse to church officials on Guam and in California.


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