Former Chalan Pago altar boy says he saw sexual abuse by Apuron, Antonio Cruz in '64
Former Chalan Pago altar boy Ramon Afaisen De Plata, says he witnessed Reverend Antonio Cruz and Archbishop Anthony Apuron molest a 10-year old altar boy in 1964. Frank San Nicolas/PDN
(Photo: Frank San Nicolas/PDN)
Church officials will investigate a report that Archbishop Anthony Apuron and another priest sexually abused an altar boy in Chalan Pago 52 years ago, according to a statement issued by the Archdiocese of Agana Monday night.
Yigo resident Ramon Afaisen De Plata, 62, told Pacific Daily News he witnessed an altar boy being abused at Our Lady of Peace and Safe Journey Catholic Church. The pastor at the time, the Rev. Antonio C. Cruz, lived above the church, he said.
“When I was 10 years old, in March 1964, I witnessed Pale Antonio Cruz and Anthony Apuron molest an altar boy,” said De Plata. “I was also an altar boy at the time. During the Lenten week, about eight of us were rehearsing for the High Latin Mass services, which were very difficult. … We finished late one night and Pale Cruz asked us to spend the night. So we did.”
Ramon De Plata said he woke up to use the restroom, which was located inside Cruz’s bedroom. When he walked in, he said Cruz was lying naked on the bed with a boy, and Apuron was kneeling on the floor — all engaged in a sex act.
“The altar boy was my age, 10 years old at the time,” said De Plata. He said both the altar boy and Cruz are since “difunto,” the Chamorro word for dead.
De Plata said Apuron followed him to the restroom and put his arm around his shoulder. Then his older brother Tomas, also there for the sleepover, appeared suddenly to ask his brother if he was OK. The brothers went home to their house behind the church.
De Plata said his brother also saw what he saw. “The following morning, he asked if I was OK. He and I never spoke about what I saw again because he did not want to talk about it.”
De Plata said that while attending religion classes at the church, he frequently saw Apuron head to Cruz’s upstairs residence. Apuron, who was 19 years old in 1964, left Guam that year to start theology school, according to Pacific Daily News files.
Cruz, who was assigned as first pastor to the Chalan Pago church after its dedication in 1959, died of heart failure in November 1986. He was 62.
Father Jeff San Nicolas, delegate to apostolic administrator Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai, said in the statement that the archdiocese extended prayers to both De Plata and the other altar boy.
"We assure Mr. De Plata that his statement will be officially forwarded to Rome as part of the investigation of Archbishop Apuron," San Nicolas said in the statement. "Additionally, a local investigation of the late Father Antonio Cruz will be initiated."
San Nicolas said he would meet with the Task Force for the Protection of Minors today and officials have requested a meeting with De Plata.
De Plata, a retired Army sergeant and veteran of Operation Desert Storm, said that he didn’t want any legal troubles when allegations of sexual abuse against Apuron first surfaced in May. He said watching others come forward finally gave him the courage to tell his story. Those who he's shared his story with have all been supportive, he said.
“I am coming forward today because not only were altar boys in Agat, Barrigada and Mangilao abused, altar boys in Chalan Pago were also abused by Pale Antonio Cruz and Anthony Apuron,” he said. “I know of others and I pray that they come forward and tell their stories so we can all heal and lift this heavy burden from our souls.”
Since May, former altar boys Roy Quintanilla, Walter Denton and Roland Sondia have issued public statements accusing Apuron of molesting or raping them when they were children. Doris Concepcion, the mother of deceased former altar boy Joseph A. Quinata, also accused Apuron of molesting Quinata when he was an altar boy.
Quinata's younger brother, however, later said Apuron raped his brother more than once.
Apuron and the Archdiocese of Agana initially denied the allegations, calling them lies, but Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai, who temporarily runs the archdiocese, retracted all statements that questioned the motives of the accusers or the validity of their complaints.
Apuron has not been charged with any crime.
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