A 45-year-old man filed a lawsuit in the District Court of Guam alleging he was sexually abused as "penance" to get confirmed in the Catholic Church.
James A. Mafnas, of Barrigada, filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Agana, alleging he was abused by former priest Raymond Cepeda when he was attending confirmation classes at San Vicente Ferrer-San Roke Catholic Church in Barrigada. According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, confirmation is a sacrament of initiation in the Catholic Church where a baptized person is "sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit."
In 1986, Mafnas and other confirmation students attended a weekend retreat at Cocos Island Resort. Students were instructed that all food had to be purchased at Cocos Island from the resort store, but Mafnas' parents couldn't afford to give him extra money for food so he packed bread, spam and corned beef to take with him to the retreat, court documents state.
Mafnas recalled that he was caught with the food and was told to report to Cepeda's bungalow. Cepeda yelled at him, telling him he would not get confirmed and made him recite 20 rosaries, the lawsuit states. Mafnas was made to sleep on the floor in Cepeda's room.
The lawsuit states Mafnas awoke to Cepeda sexually abusing him. When he tried to push him away, "Cepeda told him that this was what he had to do as his penance to get confirmed," court documents state. Cepeda allegedly told Mafnas to perform sexual acts on him but Mafnas refused and was instead forced to touch the priest.
Mafnas avoided Cepeda and was confirmed shortly after the alleged sexual abuse. He stopped going to church and only attended Mass during special occasions, the lawsuit states.
Three accuse Cepeda of abuse
This is the third victim to come forward and file civil suits alleging abuse by Cepeda. Edward Roberto Chan was an altar boy and Cepeda was a priest at San Vicente Ferrer-San Roke church. Timothy Ryan Shiroma alleged he was abused when he was attending Cathedral Grade School and sought Cepeda's assistance to contact his grandfather.
The Archdiocese of Agana had previously announced that Cepeda was laicised, or removed from his role as priest, in December 2009.
This newest lawsuit brings the total number of cases filed against the Catholic Church on Guam to 31. Mafnas is seeking a minimum of $5 million in damages.