Guam's previous top federal prosecutor has been named chairwoman of the board of Hope and Healing, the organization created by the archdiocese to address multiple accusations of sexual abuse by former Guam priests, decades ago.
Chairwoman Alicia Limtiaco's role was announced during a press conference yesterday at the Hilton Guam Resort and Spa.
Limtiaco is the previous U.S. Attorney for Guam and the Northern Marianas. She resigned recently after the Trump administration asked holdover U.S. attorneys from the Obama administration to resign. She was a Bush-era appointee and a former elected attorney general of Guam.
Limtiaco said she's committed to a board that will be victim-sensitive. The board will understand the dynamics of abuse and exploitation; and will be compassionate, fair and understand the effects and the impacts of trauma on the victims and in their lives.
"I have been reassured that this board will be an independent board, that we will not be controlled by the archdiocese, that we are not a board that is here to defend the church or the archdiocese and or any perpetrators of clergy abuse," Limtiaco said.
"We are here to ensure that their voices are heard; we are here to ensure that justice is served," Limtiaco said.
Limtiaco said she wants to emphasize the Hope and Healing Program, which started with a $1 million settlement fund seed money, won't tell victims to drop their lawsuits.
More than 50 accusers have filed complaints in court, seeking a combined amount of punitive damages that exceeds the $132 million estimated worth of the Guam Catholic church's entire assets, including the schools.
"This is not gonna be a substitute for any ongoing litigation," Limtiaco added.
She said victims have the right to choose by what means they want their voices to be heard, and the board will support their choices, through the court process, through Hope and Healing or through a combination of both, Limtiaco said.
Case workers for the nonprofit have been taking calls from claimants 24-hours a day, executive director Michael Caspino said.
The nonprofit is expecting to hold a press conference later this week announcing a separate board of incorporators, which will help ensure that the organization is balanced and objective in their handling of church victims.