HAGÅTÑA, Guam — It started off innocently: a 15-year-old boy helping out at San Miguel, a local church named for Archangel Michael, the leader of all angels.
There was yardwork and cleaning, followed by invitations to the rectory to eat and watch TV. Soon, there were offers to drink sacramental wine and watch X-rated movies. Then sexual assault.
More than 50 times over three years.
By the parish priest.
Those jarring allegations come from a recent lawsuit claiming assault from 1985 to 1988. It is one of nearly 100 lawsuits that describe rampant child sexual abuse by some of Guam’s most revered men: the Catholic clergy.
An investigation by the USA TODAY Network’s Pacific Daily News unearthed allegations of decades of assault, manipulation and intimidation of children reared on this remote, predominantly Catholic U.S. territory. Among the accusations: a boy fondled on the way to his grandmother’s burial, and another molested for the first time on his seventh birthday, then raped or assaulted 100 more times.
The children’s steadfast faith in the island’s priests made them vulnerable, the lawsuits say. Accuser William Payne’s parents “had raised him to honor and respect the priest, and told him that he had to do what the priest told him to do,” according to his lawsuit. He had “been instilled with the belief that clergy are never wrong, and that the clergy were like Jesus.”…
Archbishop Anthony Apuron blesses the rectory at Santa Bernadita Chapel in Yigo.
—>Here are resources for those who have been victims of abuse or know an abuse victim who may need help.
- The Rape Abuse Incest National Network, 800-656-4673
- Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, 314-282-9936; 314-503-0003
- National Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-4-A-Child
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-TALK
- NAMI: The National Alliance on Mental Illness, 800-950-6264
- Darkness to Light, 866-FOR-LIGHT
- Male Survivor
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