Vatican Tribunal In Guam To Take Witness Statements About Alleged Sexual Abuse
So far no altar boys alleging abuse by Archbishop have spoken with tribunal
By Haidee V Eugenio and Masako Watanabe
HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Feb. 16, 2017) – A Vatican tribunal sent to Guam as part of Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron’s canonical trial heard from some witnesses Thursday, but didn't directly hear from one of Apuron’s alleged sexual abuse victims.
Deacon Steve Martinez, a former sexual abuse response coordinator — whom Apuron reportedly fired for raising concerns about the archdiocese’s mishandling of sex abuse allegations for several years — was among those deposed by the tribunal. Apuron has denied all sex abuse allegations against him and hasn't been charged criminally, although he’s facing multiple civil lawsuits.
Former altar boy Roland Sondia didn't agree to be deposed by the Vatican team without his counsel, David Lujan, of the law firm of Lujan and Wolff.
Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, a prominent leader of the Catholic Church’s conservative wing and a seasoned canon lawyer, heads the mission to interview Guam witnesses as part of Apuron’s canonical trial. Burke, who has clashed with Pope Francis on some issues, is the presiding judge in the Apuron trial.
Sondia and Lujan left the Archdiocese of Agana Chancery, where the deposition was being held, after the Rev. Justin M. Wachs told David Lujan the process doesn't allow a witness to bring a lawyer. Wachs serves as the Vatican court reporter for the Apuron trial.
Sondia, who accused Apuron of sexually abusing him during a sleepover at an Agat church rectory in the 1970s, will submit a written declaration next week, David Lujan said.
“Honestly, I really don’t believe that they’re going to change what they have been doing for centuries, you know, to appease me,” David Lujan said.
18th abuse lawsuit
An 18th clergy sex abuse lawsuit was filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court of Guam.
Anthony Lujan, 50, of Barrigada, alleged former island priest Louis Brouillard sexually abused him when he was an altar boy, a Boy Scouts of America scout, and while attending San Vicente Catholic School in or about 1979. He said he was about 12 years old at the time.
Brouillard, now 95 and living in Minnesota, publicly admitted to sexually abusing more than 20 altar boys when he was on Guam from the late 1940s to 1981.
David Lujan said the clergy sex abuse lawsuits could double in the weeks ahead as more victims come forward, including possibly three more accusing Saipan’s Bishop Emeritus Tomas A. Camacho of sexual abuse when he was a priest on Guam decades ago, David Lujan said.
David Lujan said he told Wachs he objected to Sondia testifying without his attorney present.
The attorney also told reporters that he made the Vatican team know of his and his client’s mistrust of the Rev. James Conn, who serves as prosecutor in the Apuron canonical trial. He said Conn hasn't followed proper procedures and refused to go through him as Sondia’s counsel. Lujan’s letter to Conn also went unanswered, Lujan said.
David Lujan said this sets the tone for what’s also going to happen when the Vatican team tries to depose his other clients, Roy Quintanilla of Hawaii, and Walter Denton of Arizona.
Members of the Catholic community, led by Laity Forward Movement and Concerned Catholics of Guam, peacefully marched in front of the chancery, reciting the rosary, during the depositions.
Lou Klitzkie, president of the Laity Forward Movement, said they were there to show their support for Sondia and other clergy abuse survivors. She said their signs “Defrock Apuron” would show the visiting Vatican officials their sentiments.
David Lujan said he asked Wachs about the decree Cardinal Burke sent to Sondia, indicating the Vatican may have opened a case against Apuron as early as 2008.
“Does that mean that the case was open since 2008? ... He said that he can’t tell me whether it began in 2008 but it’s possible if it did, it’s for other matters," David Lujan said.
Apuron last year was accused of rape or sexual abuse by Sondia, Quintanilla, Denton and Doris Concepcion, the mother of deceased altar boy “Sonny” Quinata. At the time, his leadership decisions were questioned by local Catholics, including giving a seminary control over church property valued at about $40 million.
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