Court OKs settlement in 44 Boy Scout abuse cases

LAWSUIT: The Boy Scouts of America building in Upper Tumon is shown. The Boy Scouts has settled 44 sex abuse lawsuits filed on Guam. Post file photo

Peter Damian was only 9 years old when he was subjected to sexual abuse at the hands of Father Louis Brouillard, court documents state.

The Sinajana resident is the latest victim to come forward alleging the priest sexually abused young boys during Boy Scout outings.

Damian, through his local attorney Anthony C. Perez and two off-island law firms, filed a civil lawsuit in the Superior Court of Guam yesterday against the Archdiocese of Agana, the Boy Scouts of America and the Aloha Council Chamorro District. Seattle-based James, Vernon and Weeks and Honolulu-based Rosenberg McKay Hoffman filed the lawsuit with their local associate.

Brouillard was the parish priest at Santa Teresita Church in Mangilao in 1961.

Damian said he first met Brouillard at Agana Springs along with young boys who were parishioners from the Mangilao parish and also Boy Scouts.

Taught to trust 'men of God'

One day while playing outside his residence in Sinajana, Damian recalled the priest pulling up in a car in front of his house inviting him to swim with the boys at the Lonfit River.

Because he had been taught by his parents to trust Catholic priests because they were "men of God," Damian believed it would be safe to go with the priest and the boys, court documents state.

The lawsuit alleges that when they arrived at the river, Brouillard instructed the boys to swim naked and they complied. Damian claims Brouillard called him to come to an area out of the view of the other boys and began hugging him and fondling him.

When the priest was done, he gathered the other boys and drove some of them home and took Damian to a restaurant and then made him walk home.

The victim reported that he encountered Brouillard at a meeting for the Sinajana Boy Scouts troop where he witnessed the priest speaking with the Scout Master about taking the Sinajana Boy Scouts on a camping trip with the Mangilao Boy Scouts. The lawsuit states Damian quit the organization after that meeting.

The lawsuit criticizes the archdiocese and the Boy Scouts of America for failing to take any steps to prevent Brouillard's "heinous and despicable conduct."

Attorney Perez wrote that the archdiocese failed to warn its parishioners about Brouillard and failed to offer medical treatment, psychological treatment and/or counseling to his victims. Additionally the Catholic church failed to laicize and defrock Brouillard, expose him as a sexual predator or have him referred to the Vatican for investigation and/or discipline in accordance with Canonical law, court documents state.

The suit also accuses the archdiocese of having a practice and pattern of "harboring child abusers and protecting their identities," exposing vulnerable children to further harm at the hands of the abusive clerics.

In addition to monetary damages to be determined at trial, attorney Perez is also seeking equitable relief to ensure the protection of his client and the public. He asked that the court order the archdiocese and the Boy Scouts of America to do the following:

  • Post on its websites, the names of all known members of the archdiocese who are identified in this complaint or are otherwise known to the archdiocese as sexual abusers;
  • Establish a toll-free phone number and website to which anonymous abuse complaints can be made;
  • Adopt a whistle-blower policy concerning the method by which a report concerning abuse within the archdiocese can be made, and expressly provide that the archdiocese not take any retaliatory actions against individuals who report such information in good faith;
  • The archbishop or bishop in Guam be available upon reasonable notice to have a private conference with any survivor of sexual abuse perpetrated by a priest, educational, religious or other agent of the archdiocese;
  • Within 30 days after entry of judgment, the archdiocese send letters of apology to plaintiff; and
  • Any future settlement related to sexual abuse entered into by the archdiocese shall not contain any confidentiality provision except at the written request of the settling abuse victim.

Separate lawsuit in federal court

A separate lawsuit was filed against Brouillard in the District Court of Guam yesterday alleging the priest and former Boy Scout master offered bribes of food for Boy Scouts to swim naked as they worked to obtain a merit badge.

Brouillard was the swimming counselor when Jan Iriarte, 54, joined the Boy Scouts troop in Yona in 1972.

He first met the priest when he picked up the scouts and took them to the Lonfit River swimming hole where the tests were conducted.

On the first day, Iriarte recalled Brouillard telling the boys if they swam naked, he would get them ice cream at McDonald's.

Although he didn't swim naked, Iriarte was "disturbed and confused about the whole experience."

Over the course of the next few days, Brouillard allegedly made the same offer for food in exchange for the boys getting naked. Iriarte said he watched as the naked priest swam around the other boys, chasing, splashing and fondling them underwater, court documents state.

Iriarte never swam naked but he saw Brouillard "routinely"' instruct the boys to remove their clothes and grope their private parts.

Because of the priest's conduct, Iriarte believed that all priests were sexual predators like Brouillard, the lawsuit states.

While attending Father Duenas Memorial School, the victim also reported seeing a "certain brother" walking around the shower room while the students were taking a shower after physical education and class, and his presence caused Iriarte to feel violated.

The lawsuit states he stopped being a practicing Catholic, as participation in the rituals caused him anxiety and stress.

Iriarte is seeking a minimum of $10 million in damages.

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