Guam - Despite objections by the Catholic Church on Guam, Governor Eddie Calvo signed Bill 34 into law this morning. The measure introduced by Vice Speaker BJ Cruz opens a two year window to allow victims of child sexual abuse to file a civil action against the perpetrator and establishes civil penalties for conviction. The Archdiocese of Agana testified against the measure saying it targets the Catholic Church, focuses on the past and does nothing to protect victims. Prior to its passage with a vote of 9-6 several amendments were made to address frivolous claims.
Those included that a "certificate of merit" be issued by a judge and that all references to the words institutions, entities, businesses or organizations were removed. Reacting to the bill's signing, Vice-Speaker Cruz said he was near speechless at the Governor's action. He added that it may not be a popular act but it is courageous. He said he was thankful the Governor signed Bill 34, "we have to stop these crimes and find out who these people are in our community that do them," the Vice Speaker said.
The governor also signed Bill 33 into law which the church did not oppose. Bill 33 ends the statute of limitations on the prosecution of sex crimes against children. The church did not oppose the measure because it contends it prevents future abuse.
Other measures signed the governor this morning included legislation strengthening Guam's animal cruelty laws. Governor Calvo also signed the following into law:
Bill 37: An act to repeal and reenact Section 12 of Chapter III, Part II, Department of Public Health and Social Services, of Public Law 30-196 relative to funding for the government of Guam Animal Shelter, currently operated by the Guam Animals in Need (GAIN)
Bill 41: An act to amend §§ 19.69, 19.70, and 61.20 of Title 9, Guam Code Annotated; to add new §§ 61.20.1, 28.90, 29.100, and 28.101 to Title 17, Guam Code Annotated; relative to bullying, cyberbullying, and sexting.
Bill 44: An act to prohibit the possession, selling, offering for sale, trading, or distribution of shark fins and ray parts by amending §63101 and §63129 and adding a new §63114.1 and §63114.2 to Chapter 63 of Title 5 of the Guam Code Annotated.
Bill 47: An act to amend §1032 of Title 1 Guam Code Annotated, relative to Senior Citizens Day at the Legislature.
Bill 48: An act to add § 5213A, 5220, and 5425A to Title 5 Guam Code Annotated realtive to providing temporary expedited procurement procedures to assist with the disbursement of stimulus funds under the "2009 American Recovery and Reinvest Act".