Vice Speaker BJ Cruz explains why his bill failed and no one could use the two-year opportunity to go after the church.
Guam – Vice Speaker BJ Cruz is accusing Archbishop Anthony Apuron of pulling the strings on a bill passed six years ago that sought to lift the statute of limitations on sex abuse crimes.
Cruz says that on the session floor, other senators were on the phone with the archbishop taking orders from him to add poison pill amendments to the bill.
It was in 2010 when Vice Speaker BJ introduced a bill to lift the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse crimes. On K57’s Mornings with Patti this morning, the senator said when he introduced the legislation, it only contained two pages.
“The bill ended up a little over six pages. They added literally almost four pages of restrictions,” said Cruz.
Cruz says the senators who added the amendments were doing so at the behest of Archbishop Anthony Apuron.
“I don’t mind saying that publicly because I was sitting next to a couple of my colleagues and I could hear the archbishop’s voice directing the instruction of these amendments. So they gutted the bill,” Cruz said.
The bill lifted the statute of limitations for a two-year period for individuals to file suit against the Catholic Church or any organization that may have employed or protected employees or members who sexually assaulted victims.
But Cruz says because of the amendments his colleagues passed, allegedly influenced and manipulated by Archbishop Apuron, the bill was essentially useless.
“They took out the ability to be able to reach for the deep pockets. They put all kinds of restrictions on what needed to be done and the poison pill that was added was that they made it in the event that an attorney takes a case like this and doesn’t prevail that it could be the basis for an ethical charge,” explained Cruz.
The vice speaker refused to name who those senators were allegedly taking directions from the archbishop.
All this ties back to a petition launched yesterday by the group Silent No More! to lobby senators to once again lift the statute of limitations on the same law. Cruz, however, points out that there are constitutional issues in doing that.
“Window legislation to reopen the statute of limitations for a short period is really a strange to do and the courts in the states, throughout the country, have allowed it only for a short period, one or two year period,” noted Cruz, a retired Supreme Court justice. “You can only open the window once.”
“I don’t know what the constitutional issues are going to be of reopening the window,” he added.
Silent No More’s goal is to collect 100,000 signatures. Cruz says even if the group successfully collects the signatures, he will not be the senator to reintroduce another bill to lift he statute of limitations.