A legal counsel for the Archdiocese of Agana intends to argue for the dismissal of the 25 child sex abuse cases currently sitting in the U.S. District Court of Guam by challenging the legality of the law which lifted the statute of limitations on civil action for child sex abuse.
Public Law 33-187, formerly Bill 326-33, was signed into law in September 2016 and opened the door for civil action against perpetrators of child sex abuse.
Documents filed in federal court Friday indicate that the archdiocese’s counsel, Attorney John Terlaje, will file a motion to dismiss all 25 cases and intends to challenge the legality of the law, which permitted the suits to be filed in the first place.
Former Sen. Frank Blas Jr., who co-sponsored the original legislation that lifted the statute of limitations, told The Guam Daily Post he was not concerned about the challenge and believed the law would pass muster in court.
Blas said he introduced the measure because he believes no child, or no individual, deserves to go through life feeling he or she has no recourse to pursue justice.
While opposition to Bill 326 during its infancy challenged the measure on the grounds that a previous statute already provided victims of child sex abuse a two-year window to litigate, Blas stated the nature of the crime itself complicated abuse victims’ ability to seek justice and that lifting the statute of limitations entirely was the only way to ensure justice for those victims could be served.
The U.S. District Court of Guam also granted a second extension for the Archdiocese of Agana to respond to the now 25 cases it faces in federal court.
Court documents state the archdiocese's deadline to respond in all 25 cases and any future cases filed prior to the requested deadline has been extended for a second time to April 10.
The court previously granted a similar motion for extension in February and set the deadline to respond for March 10.
Court documents further stipulate that both the archdiocese and the plaintiffs' counsel, Attorney David Lujan, intend to file a motion to consolidate all cases.
Lujan reportedly advised the archdiocese's counsel that he intends to file several new civil cases in District Court in the next few weeks.