Lawsuit: Priest raped, abused Agat altar boy during confessions

By Haidee V Eugenio
Pacific Daily News
October 31, 2017

Father Jack Niland, wears a hard hat during the 2006 groundbreaking ceremony for the St. Fidelis Friary.

[with video]

Capuchin priest Jack Niland allegedly raped and sexually abused an Agat altar boy during confessions around 1979, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court on Tuesday.

The lawsuit says Archbishop Anthony Apuron, other priests and the Capuchin Order were aware of Niland's sexual abuses but deliberately remained quiet.

Apuron is also accused of sexually abusing four Agat altar boys in the 1970s, and he is undergoing a Vatican canonical trial.

The latest plaintiff, identified in court documents only as J.C. to protect his privacy, said in his lawsuit that Niland sexually abused, molested and raped him in or about 1979. He was 10 years old at the time.

On several occasions, during confession, J.C. was forced to perform a sexual act on Niland, the lawsuit says.

"During one incident, while J.C. was on his knees with his eyes closed confessing, Niland pushed J.C. forward and pulled J.C.'s pants down. Niland then hunched over J.C. and began penetrating him," the lawsuit says. 

J.C., now 48, is represented by attorney David Lujan. He is demanding at least $5 million in minimum damages. Niland is now deceased.

J.C. is the 142nd person to file a clergy sex abuse lawsuit in local and federal court against the Archdiocese of Agana, priests and others associated with the Catholic Church.

Niland became a Capuchin in 1967 and was ordained as a Catholic Priest in 1976, according to the lawsuit. Niland's first assignment on Guam was under Apuron at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Agat, where he worked in parishes and schools. During his assignment at the Agat Parish, Niland resided at the Mount Carmel Rectory. He died in 2009 at age 59.

Other plaintiffs in lawsuits against the archdiocese said they went to Niland and told him they had been abused by Apuron.

Former Agat altar boy Walter Denton, who has accused Apuron of raping him when he was a child, has said he told Niland about the rape at the time, and Niland's response was that "priesthood is a very lonely life."

Former altar boy Denton, in a libel suit filed against Apuron last year, included a letter he sent to Archbishop Martin Krebs in 2015, describing a conversation Denton and another altar boy had with Niland in the 1970s. 

"We told Father Jack Niland that Father Anthony Apuron had raped us in the rectory. We asked him why. The sad response we got from Father Jack Niland was, 'Well boys, priesthood is a very lonely life,'" Denton stated in his letter to Krebs.



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