The Archdiocese of Agana says a 2016 Guam law that retroactively lifted the statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse cases is not only unconstitutional but would apply only to the alleged perpetrators, and not institutions such as the church.Dozens of former altar boys have sued priests, the archdiocese, and in some cases the Boy Scouts of America in federal court, asking for millions of dollars in damages for sexual abuse they said happened decades ago, when they were children.The Archdiocese late Monday for the first time provided the federal court with the specific reasons it believes the lawsuits should be dismissed. Its attorneys challenged the idea that the statute of limitations can be lifted retroactively and also the idea that institutions such as the church could be retroactively held liable, in addition to the alleged perpetrators.The archdiocese’s attorneys said while not every retrospective law violates the due process clause of the island's Organic Act, extending an expired civil limitations period can unconstitutionally infringe upon a vested right.The archdiocese, in its court filing, also stated the 2016 law could allow institutions such as the church to be sued centuries after the alleged abuse, long after witnesses have died, memories have faded and evidence has been lost.The alleged sexual abuse by priests on Guam happened from the 1950s to late 1980s. Before the law was changed in 2016, the statute of limitations to sue for that alleged abuse was only one or two years.“Both as a matter of statutory interpretation and constitutional imperative, the 2016 bill did not revive expired civil claims against third parties such as the archdiocese,” attorneys for the archdiocese said in a memorandum filed in the U.S. District Court of Guam.“The 2016 Bill attempted to revive expired claims only as to alleged perpetrators, not third parties,” wrote the archdiocese’s attorneys, U.S.-based Mary McNamara, Britt Evangelist, Paul Gaspari, Daniel Zamora, and Guam-based John C. Terlaje.So far, the archdiocese faces 47 clergy sex abuse lawsuits. Of those cases, 40 are in federal court. Sevencases are in the Superior Court of Guam, but have not moved forward because trial court judges continue to recuse themselves, citing a conflict of interest.Gov. Eddie B. Calvo last September signed Sen. Frank Blas’ bill into Public Law 33-187 , allowing victims of child sex abuse to sue their abusers and the institutions with which they are associated, at any time.Although he signed it into law, Calvo said he was concerned about whether it is unconstitutional to retroactively lift the statue of limitations on lawsuits.The archdiocese's attorneys said Blas' original version of the bill attempted to allow non-perpetrators to be sued, but that section was deleted from the final bill.As a result, the attorneys stated, the 2016 law allows only perpetrators to be sued retroactively, but institutions can only be sued moving forward.
‘Bishop Camacho’Retired Saipan Bishop Tomas A. Camacho also is asking the federal court to dismiss the childhood sex abuse lawsuit against him, stating the 2016 law is invalid.A former altar boy, Melvin Duenas, alleged that Camacho raped and sexually abused him multiple times in the early 1970s when Camacho was a priest on Guam under the Archdiocese of Agana.Camacho, through his attorney William Fitzgerald, said statute of limitations has expired, and it was not retroactively revived by the 2016 law. He also said the attempt to revive a case more than 30 years after the statute of limitations expired violates the Organic Act of Guam.Meanwhile, Laity Forward Movement president Lou Klitzkie on Tuesday said the group will take a break from its weekly picket in front of the cathedral on Easter Sunday. The weekly picket calls for Archbishop Anthony Apuron’s removal as archbishop and defrocking. Apuron is undergoing a Vatican canonical penal trial and faces least four clergy sex abuse cases filed by former altar boys in Agat.Apuron's attorney, Jacqueline Terlaje, also asked the federal court to dismiss the lawsuits against Apuron, citing reasons similar to those raised by the archdiocese.
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Archdiocese Claims Law Unconstitutional
According to The Pacific Daily News: