Lawsuit: Abuse ‘robbed him of innocence’

ABUSE: Santa Barbara Church in Dededo is pictured in this file photo. A former confirmation student at Santa Barbara Church filed a lawsuit, alleging he was sexually abused while attending Santa Barbara Catholic School in 1979. Post file photo

A former altar server at Santa Barbara Church alleges he was sexually abused by a priest while he attended Santa Barbara Catholic School in 1979 and the abuse led him to become addicted to alcohol, drugs, and sex.

T.T.T., who filed using initials to protect his identity, filed a civil complaint in the District Court of Guam against the Sisters of Mercy of North Carolina and Santa Barbara Catholic School naming the late priest Raymond Cepeda.

According to the lawsuit, when he was 11 years old, T.T.T. was instructed to come to Cepeda’s office alone. While inside the priest allegedly hugged the boy and sexually molested him. Cepeda allegedly “robbed him of his innocence," court documents state, with the abuse contributing to a life of alcohol and drug addiction.

The plaintiff underwent several drug and alcohol treatment programs and struggled with sex addiction, unable to marry until he was in his early 40s, the lawsuit states.

Attorney David Lujan contends the sexual abuse forced his client to leave the Catholic church. He said Cepeda’s acts and conduct were “extreme and outrageous.”

Abuse during funeral procession

Lujan represents another former altar server who alleges he was abused while he was assigned to the San Miguel Church in Talofofo, where Andrew Manetta served as parish priest in the mid-1980s.

V.V.V., who wanted to protect his identity, alleges he was 12 years old when he was assigned to assist Manetta at a funeral ceremony at Togcha Cemetery.

He filed a lawsuit against the Capuchin Franciscans in the Superior Court of Guam.

Court documents state the boy fell asleep in the priest's car during the long funeral procession. When the boy awoke to Manetta massaging his private parts, Manetta allegedly withdrew his hand and the two rode to the cemetery in silence, documents state.

The boy never told his parents, however, he stopped being an altar server, the lawsuit states.

Lujan contends his client has had problems relating to women because of the past abuse that made V.V.V. “feel inadequate as a male.”

Manetta served as a priest on Guam from 1983 to 2001. His faculties to engage in public ministry were permanently revoked in 2002 because of sex abuse allegations.

The lawsuits seek $5 million each in damages.