- By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Former altar boys file sex abuse lawsuits against Apuron, Brouillard
Four men on Tuesday filed separate civil suits against Church officials accused of molesting them when they were serving as altar boys at Mount Carmel Parish in Agat almost five decades ago.
Roland Sondia, Roy Quintanilla Walter Denton sued Archbishop Anthony Apuron, while Leo Tudela named Father Louis Brouillard as his alleged molester.
The Archdiocese of Agana was also named a defendant in the lawsuits filed in the Superior Court of Guam.
“It is each victim’s hope that the filing of the lawsuits will bring positive change in the lives of all victims of abuse resulting in a cleansing and healing of decades-old feelings of fear, embarrassment, shame, hatred, bitterness and blaming of oneself,” said David Lujan, the attorney who represents all plaintiffs.
The lawsuits were motivated by a new Guam law that lifted the statute of limitations for sex abuse cases.
“The lawsuits,” Lujan said, “will cause the Church to remove the cancer caused by these pedophile priests and restore the Catholic Church to its rightful glory.”
The plaintiffs seek jury trials for damages in sums to be determined during the court proceedings.
In a statement released following the filing of the lawsuits, the Archdiocese of Agana said it “takes the issue of sexual abuse very seriously.”
The Archdiocese said it is taking specific steps to address the issue including the establishment of a Victim Support Group and the setting up of a trust fund to address the needs of the survivors of clergy sexual abuse.
“As a Church and the body of Christ, we want the survivors to be loved and healed by God in Christ. We pray and reach out to the survivors. They do not have to suffer in silence anymore. We hear their cries and feel their suffering,” the statement read.
The Archdiocese also urged “anyone who has been the victim of sexual abuse, by a priest or any other person within the Church, or Catholic schools and other organizations,” and those with pertinent information, to “please contact their pastor or priest or the Victim Support Group.”
The Archdiocese has established this expanded Support Group for victims to receive free counseling, to do whatever is necessary to help to heal the suffering and to bring closure as much as possible.
Church officials earlier warned that the enactment of the sex abuse law is likely to open the floodgates for lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Agana, and cause the local Church to collapse financially.
But Lujan assured that “the lawsuits will not cause the destruction of the Church. After all the church has outlived every empire and civil government known to man, the church will reform itself and become even greater.”