Suspended Archbishop Anthony Apuron believes every citizen should be afforded due process and the right to defend against a cause of action that has long expired, according to court documents filed in four civil suits filed against the leader of Guam's Catholic Church.
In a motion filed by his attorney, Jacqueline Taitano Terlaje, Apuron contends the District Court of Guam must dismiss the lawsuits filed against him and the Archdiocese of Agana because the victims' claims are time-barred and Public Law 33-187 is "inorganic and unconstitutional."
Apuron and his attorney maintain that the law that amended Guam's statute of limitations for child sexual abuse did not "retrospectively revive" the plaintiffs' time-barred and lapsed claims to file suit against him.
Terlaje wrote, "Every person who cannot defend him or herself due to the passage of time and loss of evidence suffers extreme hardship and oppression."
Allegations of sexual abuse
Plaintiffs Walter Denton, Roy Quintanilla, Roland Sondia and Doris Concepcion, on behalf of her late son, Joseph "Sonny" Quinata, filed lawsuits against Apuron and the archdiocese. The four alleged they were sexually abused by Apuron when they were young altar boys in the 1970s.
The plaintiffs' attorney, David Lujan, alleged that Apuron's motion to dismiss was being used to "scare" the plaintiffs into a quick and cheap settlement through mediation. Lujan accused the defendants of choosing to dodge responsibility by challenging the legality of the law that allowed sex abuse victims to sue for past abuse.
Magistrate Judge Joaquin Manibusan of the District Court of Guam is scheduled to hear arguments on the motion to dismiss on Aug. 29.
Apuron has declined to participate in non-binding settlement discussions and has asked the court to act on his motion to dismiss. He is also awaiting a decision from a Vatican tribunal regarding his canonical trial for sexual abuse.
The parties in the other 73 child sex abuse cases have agreed to a stay of the cases to participate in mediation that will be held in Guam beginning Oct. 30.