Vatican upholds guilty verdict

APURON: Pope Francis speaks with former Archbishop Anthony Apuron on Feb. 7, 2018, in Rome. La Stampa file photo

Two more people have come forward alleging they were sexually abused by former Guam Archbishop Anthony Sablan Apuron, who was found guilty by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of engaging in sexual acts with minors.

The lawsuits were filed in the District Court of Guam by two plaintiffs, identified in court documents as S.S.S. and W.W.W.to protect their identity, against Apuron and the Capuchin Franciscans.

S.S.S. alleges he was tied up and sexually abused by Apuron in the Cathedral chapel as punishment for spitting on the Cathedral grounds in Agana in 1987.

The boy had skipped school and was walking around the cathedral and played a game to see how far he could spit. When he got bored, the boy walked into the cathedral and into a small chapel when Apuron walked in and locked the chapel door.

Apuron allegedly accosted the boy and asked why he was spitting around the cathedral and playing in the chapel, the lawsuit states.

The boy said he wasn’t doing anything bad but Apuron allegedly told the boy he needed to be taught how to behave on holy ground and as punishment took a rope and tied the boys hands to each end of a pew in the chapel with a rope, court documents state.

After tying the boy, Apuron allegedly took a holy water dispenser and directed it at the boy’s face and then licked his face with his tongue, the lawsuit states.

S.S.S. alleges after 10-15 minutes, Apuron pulled down the boy’s pants and sexually abused him and then united the boy’s hands and told him to leave the chapel.

In another lawsuit, W.W.W. alleges he was sexually abused by Apuron over 30 times between 1976 and 1979 beginning when he was 12 years old and served as an altar boy.

Most of the abuse occurred in Apuron’s bedroom or the sacristy after mass but there were other instances that occurred in the parish van while the boy rode with Apuron to run weekly errands downtown or while traveling around the village announcing the Agat church’s weekly fundraising events.

The alleged abuse described in the lawsuit includes groping, masturbation and fondling.

The lawsuit alleges the abuse occurred until W.W.W. turned 15 and quit being an altar boy.

W.W.W. didn’t understand why this happened to him, but he felt awkward and knew what Apuron did was wrong but still he admired him because Apuron was the religious leader of the parish, court documents state.

The boy had aspired to be a priest because he believed it was an honorable calling to serve God and the community.

Both lawsuits filed by Attorney David Lujan on behalf of his clients seek $5 million in damages.

Apuron was removed from office and stripped of his title as archbishop of Guam. He was banned from returning to the island, and the Vatican forbid him from using the insignia attached to the rank of bishop.

In response to the guilty verdict and penalties, Apuron maintained his “total innocence” and claimed he was the victim of a “coordinated campaign” and a “climate of fear” by a pressure group that he said plotted to destroy him.

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