Priest on Sabbatical in Phoenix Accused of Sexual Abuse in Guam
May 8, 2018
A priest on sabbatical in Phoenix is accused of sexually abusing a boy more than 20 years ago in Guam, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court Monday.
The claim against Adrian Cristobal is the second in two months. The latest lawsuit was filed by a 33-year-old man who accuses Cristobal of abusing him from the age of 11 to 25.
Cristobal came to Phoenix in December 2017 on sabbatical and did not have an assignment, the Phoenix Diocese said in a written statement to The Arizona Republic. He arrived with a letter of good standing, officials said. The Phoenix Diocese has since removed his faculties, or his ability to perform church sacraments.
"Anyone who has been a victim of abuse or who may have information concerning this situation is encouraged to call a local law enforcement agency," the Diocese statement said.
Cristobal returned to Guam at the request of the Archdiocese of Agana, according to the Phoenix Diocese.
The Guam church has been rocked by numerous allegations against priests, which came after the territory lifted the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse in 2016. Three Arizona residents are among those claiming sexual abuse by Catholic church leaders on the Pacific island.
Almost two decades of abuse
The latest claims against Cristobal were made by a man identified in court documents as J.C.C., who grew up in a devout Catholic family in Barrigada, Guam.
The suit seeks $5 million.
The court documents recount:
The alleged abuse began in 1995 when J.C.C. was 11 years old and attending a Catholic school where Cristobal taught. He says the first instance happened after Mass, when Cristobal helped the boy properly tuck in his shirt and molested him.
The abuse was almost daily the first few years, often after school or before Mass.
As the abuse escalated, J.C.C. says he tried to fight off Cristobal.
"J.C.C. was so terrified because he had to go through three locked doors to escape," according to court documents. "J.C.C. feared for his life and sometimes thought (Cristobal) would never let him out."
J.C.C. says he kept silent about the abuse out of shame. He says he eventually began abusing drugs and acting out, which got him kicked out of school.
By the age of 14 or 15, he quit being an altar boy at the parish, although he still attended Mass because of his family's religious devoutness.
Cristobal would ask the family for the boy's help with errands, often offering to pay "because his family didn't really have money."
J.C.C. says his drug problem worsened.
"He was turning to drugs in an effort to self-medicate. When (Cristobal) learned that J.C.C. had a drug problem he took advantage of it, and would use the money to lure J.C.C. in, in exchange for sexual pleasure," the court filing said.
He says the abuse happened until he was 25.
The suit alleges others at the church knew of the abuse and did not report it.
A 35-year-old man filed a similar suit against Cristobal in April, saying the sexual abuse occurred between 1995 and 1997 at the same school and parish in Barrigada.
The Catholic Church controversy in Guam already has reached Arizona in other ways.
Two Arizona men and the mother of a third man have accused Guam priests of sexual abuse. They included:
Casa Grande resident Walter Denton of Casa Grande accused former Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron, then a parish priest, of sexual abuse.
Prescott resident Doris Concepcion alleges her son, Joseph Quinata, told her — just before he died 13 years ago — that Apuron molested him when he was an altar boy in Guam in the 1970s.
Chandler resident Francis Charfauros, 49, wanted to be a priest when he was younger, but he says he was sexually abused by Rev. Jack Niland when he was 14 and living in Guam.
Charfauros said he kept his secret for years until he heard the testimony of 52-year-old Roy Quintanilla, the first man who who came forward in 2016 with allegations of sex abuse by Apuron, who worked in the same rectory as Niland.
“Although it took me 40 years to come forward, I’m glad I did and I am glad for everyone that came forward to tell their story,” Quintanilla said.