New sex abuse allegation hits Guam Catholic archbishop

A Catholic archbishop in Guam has been hit by a new sexual abuse allegation which allegedly happened in 1990, local church officials reported to the Vatican.

Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral Basilica in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Agaña. 3 July 2010. WIKIMEDIA COMMONS /Abasaa

The Archdiocese of Agana told the Vatican that Archbishop Anthony Apuron has recently been accused by a male relative of sexual abuse that happened in 1990. The new allegation came in the wake of a number of similar accusations concerning some altar boys during the 1970s, The Associated Press reported.

Archbishop Apuron has denied the sex abuse allegations against him, but the reports have prompted a Vatican tribunal. As of this writing, no criminal charges related to the accusations have been lodged against the Catholic leader.

Vatican officials reportedly told Archbishop Michael Byrnes late last year that a verdict on Apuron's case had been agreed on, but the ruling still has not been announced. Byrnes had been sent to Guam to take the place of the embattled archbishop on an administrative level. 

In December 2017, the Guam Daily Post said there were 147 sex abuse allegations against former priests in Guam. The Archdiocese of Agana's legal representative, Michael Patterson, said there were more cases that would surface soon.

Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood noted that the number of sex abuse cases in Guam had already exceeded that of Hawaii's, which has also been facing a similar challenge. As of last month, there were 103 cases filed in the federal court in Guam.

The Catholic Church in Guam is facing almost $500 million in settlement for the sex abuse lawsuits. However, the mediation protocols in these cases were not yet complete and have led to the mediation being moved to June instead of March of this year.

There were almost 150 child sex abuse cases reportedly filed in April 2016 against Hawaii's Catholic Church and other local institutions in the last four years. Within the last two weeks of that month alone, there were more than two dozen lawsuits which were submitted.