Defamation lawsuit against suspended archbishop partially dismis - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Defamation lawsuit against suspended archbishop partially dismissed

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There's been no official word on a verdict from Rome, but some progress to report when it comes to one of his cases here at home. In a decision and order from the local court, a defamation lawsuit against Guam's suspended Archbishop Anthony Apuron has been in part, dismissed.

It's a win for anyone who's ever been publicly accused of a crime. "The Superior Court of Guam made a finding and it found that absolutely every person has the right of privilege of self-defense," explained Attorney Jacque Terlaje. "If someone accuses you of sex abuse, and in this context in a public forum, that every person has the right to defend against that, to repel the allegations of abuse is the language that is used by many courts."

In a recent decision and order issued by Superior Court Judge Michael Bordallo, he denies in part and grants in part Archbishop Apuron's motion to dismiss the libel and slander lawsuit against him. If you recall, the defamation suit was filed by Apuron's accusers, Roy Quintanilla, Walter Denton, Roland Sondia, and Doris Concepcion on behalf of her deceased son, Joseph "Sonny" Quinata.

All four men allege they molested by Apuron, who was a priest at the Mt. Carmel Parish in Agat, decades ago.

Apuron, in response, denied the allegations via video or press release statements to island media. Terlaje added, "It dismissed half the suit essentially...the complaint is two-fold: it's a defamation suit. One for libel. One for slander. The slander was dismissed so all that's remaining is libel. Essentially, the court has instructed that upon the filing of an answer then it would be appropriate for the parties to seek a motion for summary judgment and to seek dismissal of the suit based on the affirmative defenses of qualified privilege."

Earlier this month, Apuron was sighted in Rome, in the presence of Pope Francis. His last sighting was over a year ago, in California. Far from home, but Terlaje says, still close in heart. "Archbishop Apuron wants to come home. This is the longest time frame he's ever been away from the island," said the attorney.

"He is outside of Guam. Why? Would you be able...to live in this very small, close knit community in the difficulty that exists? That's just the equation for another heart attack, frankly.

"And so yes, there is a factor of a medical condition - but it's also common sense."

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