Senator Frank Aguon Jr.
Haidee V Eugenio, Pacific Daily News
A bill that would make it easier for victims to sue alleged child molesters by lifting the statute of limitations is getting wide community support, but the Judiciary, Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson and other members of the legal community have recommended changes to the bill to support its intent.
The Archdiocese of Agana has not submitted any comment on the bill, which, if enacted into law, could allow those who recently accused Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron of molesting them in the 1970s to sue him. The statute of limitations for criminal cases in connection with the allegations by the former altar boys expired decades ago. Apuron and the archdiocese have denied the allegations.
Sen. Frank Aguon Jr.’s Committee on Guam U.S. Military Relocation, Public Safety and Judiciary held a public hearing on Bill 326-33 on June 27 and provided an additional 10-day period to submit comments.
The attorney general and the Judiciary noted that the bill would change an existing law that applies to all types of personal injuries and death, and not specifically the sexual abuse of children.
Barrett-Anderson, in email testimony to Aguon, recommended a separate statute of limitations, specifically for sexual abuse and assault against children.
Robert Klitzkie, an attorney and former senator, also recommended specific changes to the bill’s language in order to be effective in allowing survivors of child sexual abuse to seek justice.
“We are currently working on a substituted version of Bill No. 326-33 and would convene another public hearing for the substitute bill,” Aguon told the newspaper.
The public hearing on a substitute bill is tentatively set for 5:30 p.m. July 26.
“The bottom line is: This bill gives the victims of child sexual abuse by adults an opportunity to seek justice for the heinous, criminal acts that have scarred them forever,” Concerned Catholics of Guam Inc. President Greg Perez said in written testimony.
Gerald A. Taitano, a Chalan Pago resident, said in written testimony supporting the bill that child abusers need to be held accountable, “regardless of when the victims are able to report.”
“When a prosecutor cannot indict a child sexual offender for those types of heinous acts because the statute of limitations has run, it raises serious moral, legal and ethical questions,” Taitano said.