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, naming the individuals by their initials S.S.S. and W.W.W. to protect their identities, were filed in the District Court of Guam against Apuron and the Capuchin Franciscans.
S.S.S. alleges Apuron abused him as punishment for spitting on the Cathedral grounds in Hagåtña in 1987. He had skipped school and was walking around the Cathedral playing a game – trying to see how far he could spit. He got bored and walked into the Cathedral and into a small chapel. Apuron allegedly walked in after him and locked the chapel door, the lawsuit states. He asked the boy 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. Apuron allegedly took a rope and tied the boys hands to each end of a pew, the lawsuit states. S.S.S. alleges that Apuron pulled down his pants and sexually abused him. He then untied the boy’s hands and told him to leave the chapel.
In another lawsuit, W.W.W. alleges Apuron sexually abused him more than 30 times between 1976 and 1979, while he was an altar boy between the ages of 12 and 15.
Most of the alleged abuse occurred in Apuron’s bedroom or the sacristy after Mass. There were other instances that occurred in the parish van while W.W.W. rode with Apuron to run weekly errands downtown or while traveling around the village announcing the Agat church’s weekly fundraising events, documents state. The alleged abuse described in the lawsuit includes groping, masturbation and fondling.
W.W.W. didn’t understand why this happened to him. He felt awkward and knew that 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 after allegations of abuse surfaced. He was banned from returning to the island, and the Vatican forbade 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.