Archbishop's Lawyer Sends Warning to Accuser

Pacific News Center
July 17, 2015

Archbishop Apuron hires attorney to warn accuser

Archbishop Anthony Apuron has retained an attorney to warn an accuser to stop ruining the name of the island’s Catholic church and its leader.

“This letter serves as a demand to you to immediately cease and desist from making any further defamatory comments or publications against Archbishop Apuron’s reputation and character,” wrote Michelle R. Neal, a Sacramento, Calif., attorney whose expertise includes sexual harassment claim prevention and investigations.

“Your conduct has caused and continues to cause grave harm not only to Archbishop Apuron and the church in Guam, but also to the universal church,” Neal wrote to Toves on July 5.

The accuser, John C. Toves, a native of Guam who lives in California, said Friday he won’t stop publicly questioning Apuron because he believes he’s saving the church by calling for a change in leadership.

The lawyer is acting on behalf of the archbishop because of the constant harassment by Toves, Father Adrian Cristobal, chancellor of the archdiocese, stated Friday.

In November last year, Toves sent letters to Vatican representatives to call for an investigation on his allegation against Apuron.

In the letters, Toves alleged that sometime between 1980 and 1983, when Apuron was a priest, Apuron allegedly had inappropriate contact with a relative of Toves when both attended a youth seminary in Guam.

He sent a letter to Archbishop Martin Krebs, the Vatican’s delegate in the Pacific islands; and similar letters to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; and Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and a former personal envoy of Pope Francis.

In December, Deacon Larry Claros, the archdiocese’s sexual abuse response coordinator at the time, said the archbishop is innocent — “for sure” — and that the archdiocese has determined no investigation was necessary.

Claros gave a public statement after Toves went to the archdiocese to try to confront the archbishop.

No victim has come forward publicly since Toves made the public allegation. Toves said his relative and former co-seminarian remains anguished and doesn’t wish to come forward.

At the time of his Guam trip in December, Toves said he’s speaking up because of the rift in the island Catholic church between those who support the Neocatechumenal Way and those who want to keep the island’s long-held Catholic traditions.

Many on Guam are afraid to speak up, he said. He said he hopes to be able to afford a Canon Law expert to press the Vatican to investigate.

“I am risking my entire well-being on all of this. Why are the people so afraid? Why?” Toves said.

The archbishop’s attorney wrote to Toves that if Toves doesn’t comply with the letter’s demand that Toves cease spreading “patently false” statements against the archbishop, Apuron will have to pursue all available legal remedies.

“Your liability and exposure under such legal action will be considerable,” the archbishop’s attorney wrote.








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