Apuron's mentor named in new clergy sex abuse lawsuit

Pacific Daily News, Guam/August 28, 2017

By Haidee V Eugenio

A now deceased priest, Antonio C. Cruz, allegedly sexually molested and abused a 9-year-old boy around 1964 at a church rectory in Chalan Pago, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court Monday afternoon.

The lawsuit is filed by a man identified in court documents only by his initials, A.J.A., to protect his privacy.

It is the 99th lawsuit filed in federal and local courts against the Archdiocese of Agana for alleged sexual abuse of minors by clergy and others associated with the Catholic Church on Guam.

A.J.A., represented by attorney David Lujan, is now 61 and lives in Las Vegas.

Cruz was a priest at the Our Lady of Peace and Safe Journey Catholic Church when he allegedly sexually molested and abused A.J.A., the lawsuit states.

As a young child, A.J.A. was a parishioner at the Chalan Pago parish, the lawsuit states. He and his family attended Mass regularly and frequently volunteered their services at the parish, including cooking for Cruz and washing his clothes.

"One day, when A.J.A. went to the Chalan Pago rectory to deliver Cruz's clothes, Cruz instructed A.J.A. to put the clothes in Cruz's bedroom," the lawsuit states. Cruz sexually molested A.J.A. in the bedroom, it states.

Cruz was identified by Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron as his mentor when Apuron was still a seminarian. Apuron also has been accused of sexually abusing and raping former altar boys, in Agat, and is undergoing a Vatican canonical trial.

A.J.A.'s lawsuit demands a jury trial and $5 million in minimum damages. Named defendants in the case are the Archdiocese of Agana, and up to 50 unnamed defendants who may have aided, abetted or concealed the abuse.

Apuron motion to dismiss lawsuit

Meanwhile, Tuesday marks the first hearing on Apuron's motion to dismiss the clergy sex abuse lawsuits filed against him.

On the eve of the hearing, a federal judge denied a California-based attorney's petition to get involved in the case.

U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Joaquin Manibusan Jr. denied on Aug. 28 California attorney Gregory Nicolaysen's August 25 petition to be admitted.

Manibusan, in denying the petition, said Nicolaysen appears to be regularly engaged in the practice of law on Guam, making him ineligible.

The judge cited Nicolaysen's extensive involvement in two cases on Guam.

Apuron, through attorney Jacqueline Terlaje, has argued that a 2016 law that paved the way for the clergy sex abuse cases did not retroactively lift the statute of limitations for child sexual abuses.

Apuron's attorney said, even if there was an intent to revive claims that have lapsed and/or expired, Public Law 33-187 is inorganic and unconstitutional.

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