HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — An archbishop in Guam is defending himself against claims that he sexually abused an altar boy 40 years ago.
Archbishop Anthony Apuron released a video Tuesday, in which he denied the allegations brought by Roy Taitague Quintanilla, of Hawaii. Quintanilla has accused Apuron of sexually abusing him when he was an altar boy and the archbishop was a priest at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Agat, The Pacific Daily News reported.
“To be absolutely clear and to avoid any misinterpretations of my statement, I deny all allegations of sexual abuse by Roy Quintanilla,” Apuron said in the video.
The archbishop also referred to “malicious ads” recently featured in local newspapers, including the Pacific Daily News. In a previous news release, the archdiocese said the advertisements insinuated sexual abuse by Apuron.
“As predicted just four days ago, these malicious ads have resulted in a false accusation of sexual abuse,” Apuron said in the video.
The Concerned Catholics of Guam, a group that has been critical of the archbishop, paid for the advertisements, which called on victims of sexual abuse to come forward.
Apuron has been accused of molestation in the past, but has never been charged with a crime.
The archdiocese issued a statement Tuesday, saying Deacon Larry Claros, the archdiocese’s sexual abuse response coordinator, has been informed and is coordinating a response. The “proper steps have been initiated” following the recent allegations, the statement says.
Quintanilla, 52, spoke at a press conference Tuesday about the alleged sexual abuse by Apuron when he was 12 years old. He said Apuron touched him inappropriately after persuading him to spend the night at his house.
“When I was twelve years old and an altar boy you molested me when you were the pastor of Agat. After a movie you drove all of the altar boys home. I was the last of the altar boys in the van,” Quintanilla said.
“I thought you were going to take me home like the others but instead you asked if I could sleep at your house the priest house so I could help you at the church in the morning. You insisted I sleep in your bedroom even though I told you I wanted to sleep in the living room.”
He went on to describe the alleged molestation in graphic detail .
“I have been silent for 40 years. Mainly because I thought all this time I was your only victim and because I was embarrassed, humiliated, degraded and terribly confused about what to do,” Quintanilla said.
“I thought if I said anything that people would not believe me or that people would retaliate against me for coming forward. Archbishop Apuron, I will not be silent anymore.”
Family members were on hand to support Quintanilla.
“He is a good and decent man who would never lead us down a path of deceit or fabricated lies,” said his niece Charlene Santos-Bamba.
“This is not about creating divisiveness in the church or discord among Catholics nor is it an attack on the faithful,” she said. “This is about bringing the truth to the fore and Roy spoke the truth today, and we were all here to witness that.”
Quintanilla acknowledged that even if he could prove his allegations against Apuron, the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution has long since passed. However, he said he would like to see the archbishop resign.
Last week, the archdiocese said it intended to file lawsuits against those spreading “malicious lies” about the local church.
In 2014, John Toves, of California, accused Apuron of molesting his cousin, but Toves’ cousin never came forward to confirm the allegations.
(Crux staff contributed to this report.)