By Haidee V Eugenio
Another Guam law firm is reaching out to those who were sexually abused by clergy as children.
Gov. Eddie Calvo recently signed a law, lifting the statute of limitations on civil suits against those accused of sexually abusing children, as well as the institutions that supported them. The new law is in response to allegations by former altar boys who said they were sexually abused by Guam clergy decades ago. Among those accused was Archbishop Anthony Apuron, who was a parish priest in Agat in the 1970s.
The first Guam law firm to file lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Agana and its priests is Lujan & Wolff LLP, which has so far filed nine lawsuits on behalf of seven former altar boys and former Boy Scouts. Attorney David Lujan said more lawsuits will be filed in the weeks ahead, and the defendants include institutions other than the Catholic church.
Lujan’s clients have alleged abuse by Apuron and former Guam priest Louis Brouillard, who has admitted to abusing altar boys decades ago.
The law office of Dooley Roberts Fowler & Visosky LLP, said it has teamed up with mainland-based lawyers who have experience representing survivors of childhood sexual abuse, including abuse by Catholic priests. The law firm said it will maintain the confidentiality of its clients as much as possible.
“A number of Catholic priests who served in Guam have been the subject of allegations of child sexual abuse. Some of the allegations date back many years, while others have been made more recently, after Guam changed its statute of limitations to make it easier for abuse survivors to come forward and seek redress for what they endured,” the law firm stated.
It is likely that lawsuits, according to the law firm, will force the Archdiocese of Agana to disclose any information it has regarding these allegations, including whether people posed a danger to children, and if so, whether the archdiocese failed to take reasonable steps to protect children from them.
The Archdiocese of Agana has repeatedly apologized to victims of clergy sex abuse and offers prayers to them.
List of priests
Dooley Roberts Fowler & Visosky issued a list of Guam clergy who already have been publicly accused of abuse, along with a brief explanation of where they worked.
- Andrew Mannetta. He first came to Guam in 1980, and was ordained into the priesthood in May 1983. He served at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Agat, and also was assigned to San Miguel Church in Talofofo and Santa Teresita Catholic Church in Mangilao. In 2003, a lawsuit filed against Mannetta claimed that he sexually abused a child from 1997 to 2001 while he was a pastor of Saint Elizabeth Church in Aiea, Hawaii. Other public accusations claimed that Mannetta sexually abused two altar boys in 1994 and another youth between 1997-1998.
- Antonio C. Cruz. In September 2016, a former altar boy, Ramon Afaisen De Plata, 62, publicly claimed he saw Cruz sexually abuse an altar boy in Chalan Pago in 1964. Cruz was assigned to Our Lady of Peace and Safe Journey Church in Chalan Pago after its dedication in 1959. He also serves at the Saint Anthony and Saint Victor Church in Tamuning. Cruz died in November 1986 at the age of 62.
- Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron. Starting in May 2016, former altar boys accused Apuron of sexual abuse in the 1970s when he was parish priest at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Agat. Apuron is facing a canonical trial at the Vatican over the allegations, and Pope Francis has already named his successor. Apuron has denied all allegations.
- Gale Leifeld. Leifeld was accused of sexually abusing students at St. Lawrence Seminary in Wisconsin. According to BishopAccountability.org, Leifeld is said to have sexually abused at least several dozen St. Lawrence Seminary students. One of the men claimed that Leifeld often spoke about the time he spent on Guam. Leifeld died in June 1994.
- John H. Wadeson. Wadeson was publicly accused of abusing children between 1973 and 1977 while he was serving in Los Angeles. In 2004, Wadeson was included on a list of priests accused of sexual abuse by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. In 2014, it was discovered that Wadeson was working as a priest on Guam, from 2000 until 2014.
- John Hugh Sutton. He worked on Guam from 1971 until about 1975 at Father Duenas Memorial School and Seminary in Mangilao. Between 2014 and 2015, a lawsuit claimed Sutton sexually abused a student while he was a teacher at Notre Dame Middle-High School in Wichita Falls, Texas. Sutton died on Sept. 11, 2004. In September 2016, a Dallas-based law firm reached out to anyone who had information about Sutton.
- Louis A. Brouillard. Brouillard’s first public admission of sexually abusing boys was through a phone interview with Pacific Daily News in August, a few days after a former altar boy publicly accused Brouillard of molesting him in 1956. Since then, Brouillard talked to other media and signed a statement in support of a lawsuit against him. Brouillard said he sexually molested at least 20 boys on Guam. He was ordained as a priest on Guam in 1948 and served on island until about 1985. He taught at the San Vicente and Father Duenas Memorial School, and was scout master for the Boy Scouts of America on Guam in the 1970s. The Archdiocese of Agana has apologized at least three times to Brouillard’s alleged victims.
- Randolph “Randy” Nowak. He served at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Agat between 1982 and 2005. His other assignments included Honolulu in 1989. In 2010, Nowak was publicly accused of sexually abusing a minor between 1961 and 1966 at Saint Mary’s Seminary in Glenclyffe, New York.
- Raymond Cepeda. In 2010, the Archdiocese of Agana confirmed that Cepeda was removed from priesthood after it investigated allegations of sexual abuse against Cepeda. He served at Santa Barbara Church in Dededo and the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica in Hagåtña.
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