The Archdiocese of Agana, which faces 13 lawsuits in connection with alleged child sexual abuse, has asked the Legislature for background information about the recent law that lifted the statute of limitations and made it possible to sue the church.Among other things, church legal counsel John Terlaje on Dec. 12 asked Sen. Frank Aguon Jr. for all documents analyzing the constitutionality or legality of Bill 326-33, as well as all opinions of the Legislature's attorney, regarding the bill. Terlaje submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to Aguon, who on Tuesday raised concerns about the request.
Aguon's Judiciary Committee worked on the bill, which was introduced by Sen. Frank Blas, Jr. It lifted the statute of limitations on civil cases related to child sexual abuse, allowing victims to sue their abusers and the institutions that supported them.Aguon said the legislative counsel's opinions on the bill are confidential under attorney-client privilege.Gov. Eddie Calvo, who signed the bill into law on Sept. 23, at the time also questioned whether the bill is flawed.
“I recognize that Bill 326 has several legal and technical concerns. A major concern is over the bill’s retroactive application of the civil statute of limitations for child sex abuse cases,” Calvo wrote in September. “Whether such retrospect will pass constitutional muster is unclear. Despite these questions, today I will err on the side of the aggrieved. If I am wrong, then the courts will tell me so."In a 13-0 vote this past September, lawmakers passed the measure, which was the center of an island-wide debate. Prior to Calvo signing it, the church and several of its supporters lobbied against the measure becoming a law, saying lawsuits could cripple the church financially and impact its ability to function.
Terlaje’s FOIA request comes on the heels of lawsuits that have been filed against the Archdiocese, Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron and former Guam priests Louis Brouillard and David Anderson.They all have been sued by former altar boys, who allege they were molested or raped decades ago.