The nephew of former Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron removed the Holy See, or the Vatican, from the list of defendants in his clergy sex abuse case.

Mark Apuron, through attorney Delia Lujan Wolff, filed a "notice of voluntary dismissal without prejudice" of all claims against "Defendant Holy See, State of the Vatican City, its instrumentalities and/or agents."

A dismissal without prejudice means the matter is not dismissed forever, and can be brought to court again.

Mark Apuron's claims against other defendants are not dismissed, he said in his Jan. 21 court filing. His claims against the Archdiocese of Agana, Anthony Apuron, the Capuchin Franciscans and others remain.

Mark Apuron accused his uncle, former Archbishop Apuron, of raping him in the bathroom of the Chancery Office around 1989 or 1990 when the nephew was about 15 or 16 years old. He filed his original lawsuit in 2018.

A Vatican tribunal upheld a decision finding Anthony Apuron guilty of sexual abuse of minors, and stripped him of his title as archbishop. Anthony Apuron still faces civil lawsuits.

In January 2019, Mark Apuron and two other defendants amended their initial clergy abuse lawsuits, to add the Holy See as a defendant.

At the time, the defendants, through their attorneys, said no person or organization has more information or knowledge about serial child sex abuse than the Holy See, and to date it has not been held to account.

The two other defendants were identified in court documents only as "D.M." and "F.M."

D.M. alleged that former Archbishop Apuron raped him in 1994 or 1995 when he was a teen. He is represented by attorney Charles McDonald.

F.M. alleged that Father Louis Brouillard, now deceased, brought him from Guam to Minnesota to continue sexually abusing him. Attorney Michael Berman is representing him.

State Department help sought

The District Court of Guam wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of State, seeking help on service of process on the Holy See, or State of Vatican City, with regard to the case that D.M. filed.

The request was made pursuant to the U.S. Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, the court stated.

The DHL package of documents addressed to the Holy See, in July 2020, "was refused delivery."

D.M. asked the court to dispatch the documents by an alternative means of service.

The District Court of Guam's clerk of court wrote a Dec. 30, 2020, request to the U.S. Department of State to send the Holy See copies of the first amended complaint in English, Italian and Latin, along with 10 other document sets.

There was no further development on the matter, as of Feb. 1.

Disclosure statements

District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood on Feb. 1 issued multiple orders seeking at least five clergy sex abuse plaintiffs to file "under seal" a disclosure statement about their identity.

Plaintiffs O.O.O., R.R.R., D.E.F., Y.Y.Y. and S.S.S. were given until today to file their disclosure statements.

The judge said the court recognizes the balance between a party's need for anonymity and the interests weighing in favor of open judicial proceedings may change as the litigation progresses.

The court is also willing to allow the plaintiffs to proceed with some degree of anonymity at the preliminary stage of litigation.

"However, in order for the court to determine whether it is necessary to disqualify itself from this proceeding, the court must know the identity of the plaintiff," the judge wrote.

Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

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