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  • By Bruce Lloyd

Tangled web of clergy sexual abuse cases moves toward outside mediation; Diocese hires new stateside

Attorneys Patrick Civille, David Lujan and John Terlaje at U.S. District Court

U.S. District Court of Guam Magistrate Judge Joaquin V.E. Manibusan has granted a stay in further action on dozens of Guam clergy sexual abuse cases, in an effort to encourage out of court mediation of the cases.

That was the outcome of a hearing requested by Attorney David Lujan, who represents 76 clients. In his filing with the court, Lujan maintained that what is known as alternative dispute resolution or ADR, would move toward fair and prompt resolution of the cases, while protecting the privacy of his clients, many of whom are elderly and identified in court filings by their initials.

Judge Manibusan heard from, among others, Attorney Lujan representing his clients, Attorney John Terlaje for the Diocese of Agana and Attorney Patrick Civille for the Boy Scouts of America. Joining the discussion by phone were Saipan Attorney William Fitzgerald for retired Bishop Tomas A. Camacho and Attorney Jackie Terlaje who represents Archbishop Anthony Apuron in four cases.

Lujan told the judge that retired Federal Judge Michael Hogan, of Oregon has agreed to serve as alternative dispute resolution mediator in the cases and that in addition to Attorney Terlaje, the Archdiocese of Agana has retained Seattle, Washington-based attorney Michael Patterson as defense counsel for all pending litigation filed against the Catholic Church in Guam (see release regarding Attorney Patterson below).

Lujan said he expected Judge Hogan would by on Guam for the mediation process for about a week in late October.

Rushing out of court and not inclined to trumpet his success in winning the motion, Lujan said there was "no question" that the release of an extensive listing of 'non-essential' properties of the Diocese of Agana would help speed along the mediation process, "I have no idea of the value since we haven't received everything yet. Of course, it's a lot of money, a lot of assets," Lujan said.

[Diocese of Agana News Release]

The Archdiocese of Agana has retained Michael A. Patterson, shareholder of Patterson Buchanan Fobes & Leitch, in Seattle, Washington as defense counsel for all pending litigation related to allegations of childhood sexual abuse. He will work with the Archdiocese’s general legal counsel, Attorney John Terlaje who is based locally.

Mr. Patterson has represented dioceses and archdioceses across the country for more than 30 years in successfully resolving more than 2,000 childhood sexual abuse cases. An accomplished trial attorney, Mr. Patterson has been recognized as having the expertise to guide complex litigation with large numbers of claims related to childhood sexual abuse to a fair and reasonable resolution.

Mr. Patterson and the Archdiocese remain committed to drawing upon the pastoral strengths of Hope and Healing Guam in working with Plaintiffs’ counsel to bring resolution to these claims. Mr. Patterson has been working closely with Mike Caspino of Hope and Healing Guam in a cooperative team effort to bring successful resolution on a fair and reasonable basis to the victim/survivors.

In describing this litigation, Mr. Patterson said, “These are difficult cases for both the survivor/victims and the Archdiocese. In fact, these are difficult cases for all involved, including the parishioners of the Archdiocese. However, I am very confident that, in cooperation with Hope and Healing Guam, the Archdiocese will work successfully with Plaintiff’s counsel to find a fair and reasonable resolution to these claims.” Patterson replaces the law firm Swanson & McNamara LLP, based in San Francisco. We appreciate the work that Swanson & McNamara has done on behalf of the Archdiocese.

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