Senators: Number of clergy sex abuse accusers shocking, unfortunate

By Haidee V Eugenio
Pacific Daily News
December 10, 2016

Sen. Frank Blas Jr.

The author of the bill that has paved the way for 12 former altar boys, so far, to sue for alleged rape or sexual abuse they went through in the hands of priests decades ago, said the sheer numbers come as a shock but not necessarily a surprise.

Sen. Frank Blas Jr., R-Barrigada, said Thursday that providing a venue for individuals to seek justice and closure and preventing others from laying a hand on children today is worth the criticism he got in introducing Bill 326-33, to allow victims of child sex abuse to sue their abusers and the institutions with which they are associated, at any time. Gov. Eddie Calvo signed the bill into law on Sept. 23.

“If I have to relive my life, I would have introduced the bill much earlier," Blas said. "Any person should not live his life in fear, in shame and with guilt for something that happened to him when he was a child. And if this bill stops an individual today from sexually assaulting a young child, then it’s well worth any criticism.”

As of Wednesday, 12 child sex abuse lawsuits had been filed against Catholic priests, the Archdiocese of Agana and up to 50 other unnamed persons who may have helped, abetted, concealed or covered up the abuses.

“One is too many. Twelve is too many. It’s sad that the numbers are high. I’m shocked,” Blas said. “Sometimes you wish this kind of statute existed 30 or more years ago.”

Blas lost his re-election bid in November and said people have said introducing the bill cost him his re-election bid.

"I know what I did was right, even if it cost me the election. If I’m going to be criticized for doing the right thing, then it’s OK,” he said.

Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz, a former Supreme Court of Guam chief justice and author of similar bills in 2010 and 2011, said he had always contended that pedophilia within the archdiocese was happening.

“I wish I was wrong. But, unfortunately, I was right,” he said.

He believes the actual number of priests involved is much higher.

“It’s going to be a question of how many victims are willing to come forward,” Cruz said after attending a Thursday morning Mass.

Cruz’s bills passed years back, but were watered down by the time they became law, making it difficult for individuals to avail of the temporary lifting of the statute of limitation at the time.

“We weren’t ready to address it back then. I’m glad we’re now addressing it. It is necessary. ... And I hope that the archdiocese, going forward, will understand that it cannot and should not allow these things to happen because too many children are destroyed in the process,” Cruz said.

The Archdiocese of Agana issued statements of apologies and prayers for at least the first 11 individuals who filed lawsuits.

The archdiocese has yet to comment on the 12th lawsuit.

Robert Aguon Perez, now 45, filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Rev. David Anderson and the archdiocese, alleging that Anderson started molesting him when he was an 11-year-old altar boy at the Saint Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church and then started raping him when he was 12 or 13 years old, up until he was a student at Father Duenas Memorial School at age 14 or 15.

The archdiocese has yet to clarify whether Anderson is still a priest, or which diocese he is serving now.

Perez is represented by attorney David Lujan, who has so far filed 12 clergy sex abuse lawsuits against former and current priests on Guam and the Archdiocese of Agana.

The latest complaint brings to at least 10 the total number of former and current Guam priests who have been publicly accused of abuse and/or rape, including Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron, who has been the head of the Catholic Church on Guam for 30 years. Apuron, 71, is undergoing a canonical trial at the Vatican for multiple sex abuse allegations from former altar boys in Agat.



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