Much-anticipated motion to dismiss held for clergy sex abuse cas - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Much-anticipated motion to dismiss held for clergy sex abuse cases

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There's still no action from the Vatican on Archbishop Anthony Apuron's canonical trial, but some progress was seen here at home relative to the clergy sex abuse lawsuits against him filed in the District Court of Guam. The much-anticipated motion to dismiss hearing ran nearly two hours, with parties at odds over the interpretation of a recent Guam law that lifts the civil statute of limitations on child sex abuse cases.

It was controversial legislation then. Now, it's Public Law 33-187 and still sparking plenty of heated debate.

In federal court on Tuesday, defense attorney Jacque Terlaje argued in support of her motion to dismiss the clergy sex abuse lawsuits against her client, Archbishop Anthony Apuron. "The plain statutory reading of the statute, it did not apply to old cases such as the one Archbishop Anthony is involved in," she detailed outside the federal courthouse this morning.  "We've also asked the court to dismiss it because its unconstitutional. It's inorganic.

"And basically what happens is when there's a law passed, there has to be a retroactive expressed provision. If there's no retroactive expressed provision, it does not apply retroactively - laws are intended to apply prospectively - that means moving forward, and not backwards and that's essentially what the plaintiffs are arguing in this particular case. That somehow it goes backwards."

Time was the recurring theme today. Terlaje argued the cases are "stale" having allegedly occurred nearly 40 years ago. Time, she argued, is not on Apuron's side. Now in his 70s, she cited loss of memory, loss of witnesses, and loss of records.

Also citing the passage of time, Terlaje stated "We already have a dead plaintiff" referring to deceased Joseph "Sonny" Quinata. But the passage of time, plaintiffs' stateside co-counsel Gregory Nicolaysen argued via telephone, has been "Apuron's best friend."

Had the alleged victims come forward sooner, plaintiffs argued Apruon would've never ascended to the ranks of Archbishop.

As for local law, plaintiffs had a different reading of the 2011 law that opened the window for child sex abuse civil suits and the 2016 law that made retroactive claims open-ended.

Nicolaysen further cited that Guam lawmakers were simply acting on a compelling public interest.

"The goal to doing this was not do damage, but the opposite," he said. Parties now wait on a report and recommendation from the court.

We should note, only three of the four cases against Apuron were heard today. Roland Sondia's case was set aside having not yet met jurisdiction requirements.

As for Apuron, Terlaje said, "My client is doing well. He's looking forward to a determination by the Vatican."

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