HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — The archbishop of Guam told church investigators to contact those who say they were sexually abused by clergy after learning this week that another former altar boy accused a priest of molesting him decades ago.
Leo B. Tudela, 73, gave emotional testimony about the abuse he says occurred in the mid-1950s during a hearing Monday at the Guam Legislature. He urged senators to support legislation that would lift the statute of limitations for lawsuits against those who sexually abused children. It’s now two years.
It comes after three former altar boys and the mother of another filed a $2 million libel and slander lawsuit against former Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron and the archdiocese, saying they were called liars when they raised allegations that Apuron sexually abused boys in the 1970s.
He has denied the abuse and not been charged with any crime. The Vatican appointed Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai as a temporary administrator after the allegations surfaced.
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The legislation introduced by Guam Sen. Frank Aguon would allow people to file civil actions against those they say abused them regardless of when it occurred.
After Tudela’s public testimony, the Catholic Church issued a statement saying Hon directed church investigators to speak with Tudela and others who have raised allegations of sexual abuse.
Hon also has revised the local church’s policies on sexual misconduct and included steps to take when allegations are made against an archbishop.
Tudela, who lives in Hawaii, told lawmakers that his parents sent him from Saipan to a Catholic school in Guam and that he was abused twice.
He said the first time was in 1956 when he was 13. He said he was woken up at the monastery late one night and molested by an unordained man belonging to a religious community.
After reporting it, Tudela was transferred to a rectory in a different village to stay. There, he said a priest who also taught at the Catholic school he attended molested him late one night.
Tudela said in an email to The Associated Press on Friday that he has not heard from church officials and directed further questions to his lawyer.
The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they are victims of sex abuse, but Tudela gave his testimony at a public hearing.