Apuron will not be part of settlement talks--for nowWritten by Janela Carrera
Guam - Attorney Jacque Terlaje says her client, Archbishop Anthony Apuron, will not be participating in any settlement negotiations pending the outcome of Apuron’s canonical trial in the Vatican which she says should be rather soon.
There are still a number of issues that are tying up settlement talks between the Archdiocese of Agana and the scores of victims suing for civil claims of sexual abuse. Specifically, Attorney David Lujan, who represents all victims who have filed in federal court, says he’s still waiting for Hope and Healing Guam Executive Director Michael Caspino to turn over financial statements for the archdiocese as well as the church’s insurance policy.
In addition, Lujan told US Magistrate Judge Joaquin Manibusan that he needs more time to determine which parties will be a part of an alternative dispute resolution or ADR. This ADR would open up the door for a settlement agreement. Most parties are on board with only a few who have yet to state their position. However, so far, out of the parties who are aware of the potential settlement, the one defendant who is not willing to participate is Archbishop Anthony Apuron.
"My client is not considering settling any cases until such time as a canonical trial is complete," asserted Terlaje.
Apuron has been on trial at the Vatican for several months, facing sexual abuse allegations from at least four alleged victims: Walter Denton, Roland Sondia, Roy Quintanilla and Doris Concepcion on behalf of her late son Joseph Sonny Quinata. When allegations first surfaced, Apuron was quick to dispute the claims and immediately maintained his innocence.
"The canonical trial is ongoing. I’ve received word that there may be a decision forthcoming but that’s always prospective, especially when it comes from a completely sovereign nation like the Vatican," explained Terlaje.
Today, Judge Manibusan ordered the parties to return in three weeks as they wait on the outcome of Apuron’s canonical trial. Noting that he does not want to rush into an ADR process, Judge Manibusan said he was inclined to give Apuron's cases more time before moving forward in the cases that involve the archbishop. The cases that do not involve Apuron, however, will continue to be held in abeyance but will move forward nonetheless.
Lujan noted that at this point, any settlement talks are in Caspino's hands now.
PNC: "Mr. Lujan, if Archbishop Apuron is found not guilty in his canonical trial, how do you think that will influence the outcome of the ADR process?"
"I don’t think it has any effect. I’ve never cared for that canonical thing because my role is to sue for money damages. Do I care that he’s the archbishop or a defrocked one? It doesn’t mean anything as far as the ADR is concerned," said Lujan.
PNC to Terlaje: "If he’s cleared in the canonical trial would you consider participating in the ADR process?"
"You’ll have to wait and see," Terlaje noted.
The parties are due back in district court on July 6 at 10 am.