The board tasked with reviewing clergy sex abuse claims held its first meeting yesterday and spoke about the process by which the board will review the "dozens and dozens" of claims filed against the Archdiocese of Agana and former Guam priests and bishops.
During a press conference held yesterday at the Hope and Healing office at the Hilton Guam Resort, board chairwoman and Guam's former U.S. Attorney Alicia Limtiaco introduced four of the board's six members.
As of yesterday afternoon, the Hope and Healing board consists of: Limtiaco, Rev. Tom Van Engen, Nieves Flores, Lydia Diaz Tenorio and Dr. Ellen Bez, who was not present yesterday. A sixth member has already been identified and is at this point awaiting confirmation, Limtiaco said.
Program Director Mike Caspino reported there have been more than 50, but less than 100 claims made through the Hope and Healing hotline.
He did confirm that all the claims made to the Hope and Healing hotline have been directed at priests and clergy already named in lawsuits filed in both federal and local courts, and that the claims have been of abuse from decades ago. Caspino said if a new claim is filed and involves recent or active abuse by a priest still active in the archdiocese, police will be contacted immediately
The archdiocese provided the Hope and Healing Program with a $1 million in seed money to get a settlement fund established. Since then, Caspino reported yesterday that very little has been used so far.
"The archdiocese is still in the process of disposing of and selling certain properties, so the fund is growing and insurance money to be added to that fund," he said. "We have tapped some of that money for administrative cost, but beyond that we have money available and we're assured by the Archdiocese that there will be enough money to resolve all of the claims."