Lawsuit: Victim regrets not coming forward sooner

ALLEGATIONS: The Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica in Hagåtña is shown in this file photo. Two more lawsuits were recently filed by a man and a woman who allege they were abused by now deceased priests Raymond Cepeda and Daniel Cristobal, respectively, when they were kids. Post file photo

A Saipan woman has filed a civil lawsuit against an ordained priest who previously served at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica, accusing him of sexually abusing her during a trip to Guam when she was 12.

The woman, identified as "B.T." in court documents to protect her identity, accuses Joe R. San Agustin, also known as Andrew San Agustin, of embarking on a scheme to lure her and her sister to Guam where he could "engage in sexually predatory conduct."

The lawsuit, filed yesterday in the District Court of Guam, seeks a minimum of $5 million in damages. The lawsuit alleges that San Agustin met B.T. and her sister when he was temporarily assigned to work as a priest and teacher at Mount Carmel School in Saipan from his assignment at the cathedral-basilica.

The victim, who is now 65, said San Agustin became a trusted mentor and was a regular at her home for social purposes and dinner with her family.

When she was 12, San Agustin extended an invitation to have B.T. and her sister accompany him to Guam for a vacation in the summer of 1963, and offered to purchase their airline tickets, assuring their parents that his family would take care of the girls.

The lawsuit states the parents consented because they trusted the priest, "not realizing that they were sending their daughters to be sexually abused by a predator disguised in the robes of the clergy."

The victim alleges that she and her sister stayed with the priest's mother, who was ill, and his sister, and he would visit them daily.

The sexual molestation and abuse occurred each and every time he came to the residence throughout the entire trip to Guam, court documents state and he would tell her, "It's okay. Don't be scared."

The woman recalled being "traumatized and terrified" when she returned to Saipan and said she chose to suffer in silence and avoid San Agustin, who continued to come to visit with her family until he returned to Guam to his post at the cathedral-basilica.


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