Former Archbishop Anthony Apuron could be allowed to give his sworn statement via Zoom from California before his sex abuse case can be settled.

During Thursday’s joint status hearing held in the District Court of Guam on the sex abuse lawsuits, the plaintiff’s attorney Delia Lujan-Wolff said they would like to settle on a date to get his sworn statement, which originally was supposed to be given in person.

She said his statement is needed before mediation can proceed. Lujan-Wolff agreed with Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood when the court asked if moving forward with settlement without his sworn statement would be a deal breaker.

Apuron’s attorney Jacqueline Terlaje told the court the delay was due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tydingco-Gatewood told the parties to confirm a date to get Apuron’s sworn statement before any further mediation deadlines are set.

A Vatican tribunal had convicted Apuron after the former archbishop was accused of sexual abuse of children when he was a Guam priest. He had been accused of sexually assaulting underage boys, including one of his nephews. Apuron appealed the verdict but it was upheld in April 2019.

Sex abuse cases

Tydingco-Gatewood also said during the hearing that she was told by the 9th Circuit Judges that mediation is “still moving right along.” She adds that mediation deadlines will be set at a later date.

A stay to allow good faith efforts for the plaintiffs and defendants to continue mediation and settle the pending claims remain in effect until July 2.

It was said in court that a total of 281 sex abuse complaints need to be resolved. Of those, 245 cases are in the District Court of Guam, 21 are in bankruptcy court, and 15 in the Superior Court of Guam.

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