Vatican takes over as Guam sex claims probed
HAGATNA — The head of the Catholic Church in Guam has denied sexual abuse allegations after the Vatican appointed an administrator to perform his duties while an investigation is underway.
Archbishop Anthony Apuron has handed over his responsibilities to Vatican-appointed Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, the Archdiocese of Agana said on Tuesday.
It said Hon would remain in the US Pacific territory “pending the investigation of an abuse allegation”.
The allegations surfaced last month and date back to the 1970s, with former altar boys alleging they were molested by Apuron, then a parish priest.
In an emotional video address from Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome posted to social media Tuesday, Apuron denied any wrongdoing.
“I reaffirm my innocence and I am a victim of these horrible calumnies,” he said, urging “my dear people to pray for me, your shepherd and for our church.”
Apuron stressed that he had asked Pope Francis to appoint the administrator and that it was a temporary move while he worked to clear his name.
“The Holy Father has understood the importance of establishing the truth and will allow an independent investigation of these false allegations to proceed,” he said.
The initial accusations came from Roy Taitague Quintanilla, now 52, who claimed Apuron sexually assaulted him during a sleepover 40 years ago.
Then Doris Concepcion –- a former Guam resident now living in the United States -– alleged that her now deceased son, Joseph A. Quinata, told her before his death that Apuron had abused him.
This week, another man, Walter Denton, alleged Apuron raped him in April 1977, when he was a 13-year-old altar boy at the Mount Carmel Church in the village of Agat.
“It bothered me all my life. There were many times when I was alone I would just break down and cry,” he told supporters outside Hagatna’s Catholic cathedral.
Apuron, who has headed the Agana archdiocese since 1986, has not been charged with any crime.
The archdiocese said last week that it had hired a US law firm to conduct an independent investigation into “allegations and rumours” against Apuron.
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