Cruz lauds Calvo's courage for Bill 34
Guam - In the words of Acting Speaker B.J. Cruz, Governor Eddie Calvo's action on Bill 34 could easily comprise a chapter or a profile in courage. "Because it is a very courageous act that you're taking. I know it's not popular, but it is something that's important," he said.
Governor Calvo today signed Bill 34 into law. The measure was opposed by the Archdiocese of Hagatna, which called the bill an attack against the church, focuses on the past and does nothing to protect children from sexual abuse. The measure would allow adults who were sexually abused when they were children two years from today to file a civil action against their perpetrators.
"I do believe it is so important that again any one that has committed a heinous crime such as a violation of our most precious our most innocent there's not only criminal remediation that occurs but also civil as well," he said.
Governor Calvo signed the bill because he felt the amendments made to the legislation addressed concerns he had with the original version. The changes would address frivolous claims and include that a "certificate of merit" be issued by a judge and that all references to the words institutions, entities, businesses or organizations were removed.
He said, "It is unfortunate that in society not only in Guam and the U.S. and world there are those that you put a certain trust into whether it's a family member or a someone with authority and they break that morale authority and committee these evil acts, I'm so honored to sign this piece of legislation and we will ensure that when these crimes are committed that crime does pay."
According to statistics from the healing hearts crisis center out of the 117 victims it treated last year 100 of them were under the age of 17. For someone who typically is never at loss for words. The acting speaker was moved by the governor's action, saying he knows there were a lot of pressures placed upon him not to sign the legislation.
Said Cruz, "I can't thank you enough; politically it was very difficult and your courage is really astounding. I really congratulate you and commend you for doing the right thing. We're both crying."
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.
The Archdiocese issued a statement in response to Bill 34 being signed, stating, "Although the Archdiocese has reservations about Bill 34, we think it's important that the governor emphasized in his signing message that public and private institutions are not liable under the new law, and allows litigation against perpetrators alone. Our primary focus will continue to remain on the protection of children in our community. The Catholic Church on Guam has zero tolerance for the sexual abuse of children and we will continue to expand our training and outreach efforts to help prevent abuse, encourage prompt reporting of crimes, and bring healing to victims."
Meanwhile, the governor also signed Bill 33 into law that 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.