Guam Archdiocese Asks Federal Court To Dismiss All Clergy Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Church's Attorneys challenge new law eliminating statute of limitations

By Haidee V Eugenio

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, April 10, 2017) – The Archdiocese of Agana asked the federal court to dismiss dozens of clergy sex abuse lawsuits, based on a challenge to a seven-month-old law that lifted the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse cases.

Attorney John Terlaje, one of the attorneys for the archdiocese, along with U.S.-based lawyers, filed on Monday a report on the April 24 scheduling and planning conference. It referred to at least 37 sex abuse cases with claims he said were from 30 to 36 years ago. To date, the archdiocese is facing 46 clergy abuse lawsuits, including a handful filed in local court.

“The Archdiocese and Archbishop (Anthony) Apuron have filed motions to dismiss based on a challenge to the newly-passed statute of limitations relating to child sex abuse codified at 7 GCA 11301.1,” he said.

The law, signed on Sept. 23, 2016, allows victims of child sex abuse to sue their abusers, and the institutions with which they are or were associated, at any time.

Terlaje said should the federal court deny the motion, the archdiocese could bring a further motion to dismiss directed at the individual claims for relief in the various cases.

Attorney David Lujan, counsel for the plaintiffs, intends to file additional clergy sex abuse cases, Terlaje said.

The archdiocese anticipates filing a motion to consolidate the cases pending in federal court by Friday.

Terlaje said because of the unique nature of the cases, the archdiocese’s report doesn't follow the required format. He said the archdiocese and the plaintiffs’ counsels haven't completed the meet-and-confer process required for the completion of a joint report. Terlaje also said the parties haven't exchanged initial disclosures, but said the archdiocese will do so by April 24.

The archdiocese's filing comes days after Apuron, through attorney Jacqueline Terlaje, filed a motion to dismiss sexual abuse lawsuits filed by four former altar boys who alleged Apuron raped or sexually abused them in Agat in the 1970s.

‘Defrock Apuron’, amendments

The Laity Forward Movement announced it will hold a demonstration Easter Sunday, picket calling for Apuron’s removal and defrocking. Apuron is undergoing a Vatican canonical penal trial.

“We will continue picketing until Apuron is removed and defrocked,” said Lou Klitzkie, the movement’s president.

Pacific Daily News
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