Progress on hold in sex abuse cases

DISTRICT COURT: Attorneys Patrick Civille, left, and John C. Terlaje leave the District Court of Guam after scheduling conferences regarding child sex abuse charges against the archdiocese Monday, April 24. Civille represents the local chapter of the Boy Scouts of America, and Terlaje represents the Archdiocese of Agana. Neil Pang/The Guam Daily Post

"Usually (a) settlement is a possibility, but in these cases I don't know. ... We're early in the game right now." – Patrick Civille, attorney

  

The Boy Scouts of America Aloha Council has retained Guam attorney Patrick Civille to represent them in the ongoing cases they are facing from alleged child sex abuse victims of their former Scout Master, Louis Brouillard.

After a scheduling conference held yesterday before Magistrate Judge Joaquin Manibusan of the District Court of Guam, Civille said he had only just started to review the dozens of cases that have been filed so far.

"We haven't officially entered the case yet," Civille said.

"I know the Boy Scouts are interested in short-cutting some of the procedural problems and today I discussed with plaintiff counsel that we're not going to make them jump through any particular hoops in terms of serving the Boy Scouts - that I'll accept service and that streamlines the process. Beyond that ... I have to look at the evidence."

The Boy Scouts of American Aloha Council Chamorro District has recently been added as a defendant in all of the cases involving Brouillard who, court documents state, used his position as a priest and Scout Master to gain intimate access to young children serving as altar boys and who participated in the Boys Scouts' Troop 24. In the cases filed in district court, plaintiffs have alleged that Brouillard took boys on camping and swimming outings where he molested them numerous times.

In July 2016, Brouillard wrote a letter and recorded a video confession in which he admitted to sexually abusing "more than 20" boys during his time in Guam in the 1960s and '70s.

While the issue of clergy abuse of boys under their care has been widely publicized since May 2016, the court has only just begun to move through the long list of cases filed since the start of this year.

"Usually (a) settlement is a possibility, but in these cases I don't know," Civille said. "We're early in the game right now."

Civille went on to add that while he is new to the cases and has only seen a few documents so far, he has experience in sex abuse cases from the past - though none that involved clergy.

Motions held in limbo

During yesterday's scheduling conference, Manibusan told counsel he would be ordering an abeyance, or pause, on all proceedings as they relate to motions in the pending cases. So far, counsel for the Archdiocese of Agana, attorney John Terlaje, has filed motions to dismiss and consolidate the cases.

The judge said the hold will allow attorney David Lujan, counsel for the alleged victims, to clarify the issue of jurisdiction. Manibusan explained that while the cases state the plaintiffs are residents of different status within the U.S., that does not necessarily establish that the court has jurisdiction to hear them.

Manibusan gave Lujan three weeks to file documentation establishing that there exists "true and complete diversity" in the cases before the court can move forward.

Lujan told the media he would be completing the necessary filing as soon as possible, and said he expects that some of the cases he has filed will not be able to be processed in the federal court.

"I believe that some of the cases, of course, I don't think we'll be able to show jurisdiction, but that's alright," he said.

Lujan added that in those cases where the district court does not have jurisdiction, he will simply move them to the local courts. While he was not able to give a specific number of cases that may need to be moved to the Superior Court of Guam, Lujan said he expected "almost half" would have to be moved.

Two new cases

As of yesterday afternoon, Lujan filed two more cases alleging child sexual abuse at the hands of Brouillard, in his role as both a priest and Scout Master.

In the newest cases, a plaintiff using the initials C.P. alleged Brouillard abused him when he was between the ages of 7 and 10 in the early 1970s when he served as an altar boy at the San Isidro Catholic Church in Malojloj. According to court documents, Brouillard would "grope and fondle" C.P. and others whenever he had the opportunity, including when C.P. and other boys were showering at the Malojloj Convent where Brouillard resided, and during Boy Scout camping and swimming outings.

In the second case filed yesterday, "S.A.F." stated Brouillard abused him in 1975 when he was 10 and an altar boy at the San Roke Catholic Church in Barrigada. Court documents state Brouillard gave S.A.F. wine to drink one night when he was sleeping over at the church rectory. After S.A.F. fell asleep, court documents state he awoke to Brouillard performing oral sex on him. Brouillard allegedly told him "it's OK, don't worry" and then "attempted to penetrate him."

S.A.F.'s complaint states he pushed Brouillard off and ran home, but later returned when Brouillard followed him home and told his mother he needed S.A.F. to sleep at the rectory in order to serve at the next morning's Mass. Court documents state Brouillard told S.A.F., "If you tell anyone, no one will believe you because I am a priest." Brouillard then forced S.A.F. to perform oral sex on him after which S.A.F. ran away again, but did not go to his home, according to court documents.

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