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Good news for Guam victims

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Still no verdict from Rome on Archbishop Anthony Apuron's canonical trial. But, some good news for victims from a court here at home.

Deny defense's motion to dismiss the clergy sexual abuse lawsuits against Archbishop Anthony Apuron. This recommendation comes from U.S. Magistrate Judge Joaquin Manibusan to be forwarded to Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood this week.

While it's only a recommendation, it's a small victory in favor of plaintiffs in the now over 100 cases of clergy sexual abuse filed in both the local and federal courts.

Plaintiffs' attorney David Lujan said, "We are ecstatic. Of course we're happy."

As reported, Apuron's attorney Jacque Terlaje argued in her motion to dismiss that the plaintiffs' claims are time-barred and infringe on Apuron's vested rights and due process afforded by the Organic Act of Guam.

The court disagreed stating the 2016 law that lifts the civil statute of limitation on child sex abuse properly removes Apuron's immunity from such lawsuits.

The same law enables the over 70-plus lawsuits against retired priest and former leader of the Boy Scouts, Father Louis Brouillard.

According to Lujan, there are plans to visit the 97-year-old priest in Minnesota next week.

"Of course, we're trying to arrange so every plaintiffs' lawyer will participate in that deposition. So it probably will be a one week deposition, if we can finalize everything. All the lawyers that are involved are going to be there," he said.  "Deposition is to question him about the events and about what he remembers. But i do not believe it is an issue because he's already confessed to it," said Lujan.

In a 2016 phone interview with KUAM, Brouillard admitted to molesting boys while he was on Guam because he believed it made them happy. He said, "I'm sorry that it happened and I should have never allowed myself the opportunity or the time for such things. This happened long ago and time has not healed me. I'm sorry that it ever happened."

As for out-of-court settlement, while Apuon's attorney has stated they will not be participating in mediation talks, all other parties have agreed to participate.

Lujan tells KUAM parties couldn't agree on Oregon retired federal judge Michael Hogan and names a San Francisco mediator in his place. "We've already decided on a mediator. We've decided it's going to be Tony Piazza," he said.  "The consensus among all the parties is that we want a mediator that has done church cases in the past."

Parties are anticipated to meet with Antonio Piazza in November. According to his website, he's recognized as one of the leading mediators in the world and has resolved over 4,000 cases since 1980.

We should note, defense for Archbishop Apuron has time to object to Judge Manibusan's recommendation.

That deadline is October 11.

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