Four Who Accuse Guam Archbishop Of Abuse Sue Archdiocese For Slander

Lawsuit accuses Apuron of trying to discredit them; calling them liars

By Haidee V Eugenio

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, July 5, 2016) – The Rev. Jeffrey San Nicolas said the archdiocese is “studying the matter seriously,” referring to a libel and slander lawsuit filed Friday by four people who publicly accused Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron of sexually abusing altar boys in the 1970s.

San Nicolas was appointed delegate of the administrator, assuming responsibilities similar to those of the vicar general and moderator of the Curia, on June 30, a day before the lawsuit was filed.

Apuron and other archdiocese representatives previously threatened to sue accusers and others for allegedly spreading malicious and calumnious lies against the archbishop and the Archdiocese of Agana.

The plaintiffs — Doris Y. Concepcion, Roy T. Quintanilla, Walter G. Denton and Roland Paul L. Sondia — said they filed the lawsuit against Apuron, the archdiocese and up to 50 other unnamed defendants for calling them liars and for accusing them of “instilling hatred, ignorance and violence in the people” after the plaintiffs publicly accused Apuron of molesting altar boys when he was parish priest at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Agat.

“The archdiocese has learned the news of the lawsuit and we are studying the matter seriously,” San Nicolas said. “In the meantime, we ask the people to extend their prayers to all.”

Monsignor Brigido “Bibi” Arroyo, the current spokesman for the archdiocese, said Tuesday he has no information yet on legal representation for the archdiocese regarding the lawsuit.

Attorney David Lujan, lawyer for the four plaintiffs, said Tuesday this is the first time that the Archdiocese of Agana and Apuron are being sued for libel and slander. The plaintiffs said they want the truth about Apuron to come out in court.

A month ago today, the Vatican temporarily stripped Apuron of his administrative authority over the Archdiocese of Agana and appointed in his stead Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai while allegations of sex abuse against Apuron are investigated.

Apuron hasn't been charged with any crime. He remains as archbishop.

Three of the four plaintiffs — Quintanilla, Denton and Sondia — are former altar boys who accused Apuron of molesting them in the 1970s. Denton said Apuron raped him during a sleepover at the church rectory.

Concepcion represents her son, Joseph Anthony “Sonny” Quinata, whom she said told her before his death 11 years ago that Apuron molested him when he was an altar boy also in Agat in the 1970s.

The plaintiffs demand a jury trial and seek no less than $500,000 each for general damages, for a total of at least $2 million.

‘New phase’

Hon announced Sunday that this week marks a “new phase in the life of the Archdiocese of Agana,” with the appointment of a new chancellor and a new delegate of the apostolic administrator, who will assume the responsibilities of the vicar general and moderator of the Curia.

His announcement came a day after leading a Saturday night “prayer meeting for unity” at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica in Hagåtña. The event also was held to swear in San Nicolas to his new post and the Rev. Jose Antonio “Lito” Abad as the new chancellor.

Hon reiterated the appointments came after speaking with all of the clergy and many other members of the local church.

“It was the result of the weekly meetings of the Presbyteral Council of the Archdiocese and must be seen as a collegial effort for the purpose of promoting unity and stability in the local church,” Hon said.

The ad hoc committees organized two weeks ago are “working hard to fulfill their mandate of providing me with information and wise council for any further decisions I may need to make in the archdiocese," he said. “Their work is already bearing fruit with planned canonical visitations of the two major seminaries on the island and parish canonical visitations that will take place during the first part of July."

Arroyo, as archdiocese spokesman, clarified that the canonical visitations to the parishes, and to the Redemptoris Mater Seminary of Guam in Yona and the St. John Paul the Great Archdiocesan Seminary of Guam in Malojloj, will be done by those within the Archdiocese of Agana, not a new team from the Vatican.

Hon also said the process of fostering deeper communication and stability in the archdiocese in “an arduous task that requires time, patience, understanding, sacrifice and above all, the grace of God.”

A day after the prayer meeting for unity, the Concerned Catholics of Guam held a silent protest in front of the cathedral, calling for Apuron to be defrocked.

Pacific Daily News
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