Superior Court grants motion to stay church sex abuse and defamation cases

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The stay will be in effect for 30 days.

Guam – Following a stay granted in the District Court of Guam in the church sex abuse lawsuits–with the exception of the cases involving Archbishop Anthony Apuron–a temporary stay was also issued by the Superior Court of Guam this morning.

When the sex abuse cases against the Archdiocese of Guam were originally filed at Superior Court, all judges recused themselves, including Judge Michael Bordallo. Out of necessity and at the request of District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewoo, however, 20 sex abuse and 4 defamation cases are back at Superior Court where they are now talking about how to proceed with litigation.

There are over 90 sex abuse cases filed against the Archdiocese of Agana. With multiple plaintiffs and defendants, the issue of how to proceed with mediation, in particular, what mediation process to follow, has arisen as all parties must be in agreement. In court today, Judge Bordallo issued a 30-day stay to allow all parties to sort out the mediation process.

Attorney Patrick Civille says his client, the Boy Scouts of America, supports the motion to stay.

“The one thing we would like built into it is an opt-out provision. I think this is what you are talking about. If the process isn’t agreed to then we would like to move forward on our motion,” said Civille.

But not all parties agree with the stay.

“I would object to a stay in this proceeding as the court is aware Archbishop Apuron is a separate party in this particular litigation and he is not participating in this mediation process. And so therefore it would be inappropriate to stay the entire matter pending the potential resolution by the church and this case,” voiced Attorney Jacque Terlaje, legal counsel for Archbishop Apuron.

Terlaje is referring to the defamation case involving her client Archbishop Apuron. A motion to dismiss has been outstanding for nearly one year. Terlaje requested that the motion be heard. Judge Bordallo states they will review the motion but the stay will apply.

Bordallo says the court will not issue a decision on Terlaje’s motion to dismiss but will issue a decision on how to proceed at the next hearing which is scheduled for September 12 at 9:30 am.

“We will stay any further proceedings in this matter for 30 days we will review the motion and either schedule it for hearing shortly after September 12 or pursuant to the civil rules taken under advisement without oral argument by September 12,” said Judge Bordallo.

The next issue the court perceives is how to manage the litigation and consolidate some of the cases based on those participating in mediation and those who are not. Right now they are all divided into individual cases.

According to Perez the Church has scheduled a conference on September 5 to finalize the mediation process. In the meantime, all parties have been provided with two weeks to submit an opposition to Judge Bordallo presiding over the cases.

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Jolene Toves
Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.