Saturday, July 2, 2016
BILL 326-33. JUNE 27, 2016. PUBLIC HEARING ROOM. GUAM LEGISLATURE. THEIR TESTIMONIES.
TESTIMONY OF WALTER G. DENTON
June 27, 2016
TESTIMONY IN FAVOR OF BILL 326-33
I was raped by the Archbishop of Agana, Guam, who at the time was a priest and the pastor in Agat. I trusted him. I worshiped the ground he walked on. He was my mentor, my teacher. He was like a father to me, so I thought. He was the priest I wanted to become, but he took all that away from me.
Good morning, my name is Walter Gene Denton formerly of Agat, Guam. I am here today to tell you esteemed Senators my story, and one that has defined my life ever since, in the hope and prayer that you will pass Bill 326-33 into law.
I was only 12 years old when I was raped by Father Apuron. I was an Alter Boy for my village in Agat. Being an Alter Boy motivated my desires to serve God and to become a priest. I may have been young, but I knew that was my calling. In the evening of April 16, 1977 I spent the night in the rectory with Father Anthony to help prepare the church for Sunday services. Father Anthony and I had dinner in the rectory. After dinner I helped Father Anthony wash the dishes. After cleaning up the dirty dishes I went into the living room and sat on the lazy boy chair and watched TV for a little bit. I started to feel tired and sleepy. I pulled the handle of the lazy boy and got it to recline. As I was lying on the lazy boy chair Father Anthony Apuron came into the living room and asked me if I was ready to go to sleep. I told him yes and that I was going to sleep on the lazy boy chair. He said no and he insisted I sleep in the bedroom with him. I said okay Father. Sometime late that night or early morning I woke up feeling something or someone on top of me smothering me and I felt something going in me and it was hurting me. I was pinned down to the bed on my stomach with my legs spread apart. I could not move. I could not move my arms or my legs. I was pinned down. I felt something going in me and it hurt so much. I shouted out to please stop. I kept shouting and I tried to move but all I could feel was him on top of me thrusting something in me. He told me it will be alright. He finally stopped and he laid down on me like he was resting. He got off me and I immediately got off the bed. I was crying and breathing hard. I can feel my butt was all wet. I asked him why you did that to me. I kept asking why. He said if I said anything to anyone, no one will believe me. That night had changed my life forever. It had changed my direction in life.
On December 24, 1977 right before Agat midnight mass, I was walking with Father Jack Niland to the front of the church and as we were walking I told Father Jack what Father Tony Apuron(his pastor) did to me. He looked at me and said, well Walter, priesthood is a lonely life. From that moment I knew that nothing was going to get done and Father Tony’s words started to sink in that nobody would believe me. After leaving that nightmare of my ordeal, I never went back to serve in Agat church as an Alter Boy.
Around spring of 1999 – 2000, I was stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington. I was assigned to the 47th Combat Support Hospital. I lived in base housing on North Fort Lewis. I had planned to do yard work so I needed a few pieces of equipment so I went to the Self Help Store to pick-up a lawnmower and a rake. I met a Chamorro guy who worked there issuing equipment. I told him I was from Guam. We talked for a little bit and he mentioned to me that the Bishop of Guam Anthony Apuron was coming to his mother’s house. He told me that they are all related and he invited me to see Bishop Apuron. I decided to go because I wanted to confront him.
Bishop Apuron finally arrives to the house. He starts to greet the people who are there. I waited and waited till he was free, I went up to him, and I asked him “DO YOU REMEMBER ME?” He looked at me and said, MICHAEL? I said NO. It’s me Walter Denton. Now do you remember me! His eyes got really big. He was in shock. Right at that moment, I told him that I needed to speak to him. Bishop Apuron said okay. We can go for a walk. It took only a couple of minutes for the Bishop to make time for me. We left the house and we started to walk around the block. He started to ask me how I was doing. And what have I been doing all these years? That’s when I got mad. I told him that he ruined my life and my dreams. I told him that you RAPED me and took dreams of becoming a priest from me. I told him that I would never forgive him for what he did to me. I broke down and cried. He started to cry as well, but that didn’t mean anything to me. I was so angry and I asked him how many kids you have done this to. I mentioned R.S. and he looked surprised. He said that he was sorry for what he did to me. I continued to tell him that I wanted to be a priest like you and that I looked up to him as my Father. He asked me to forgive him but I said no.
After walking for a while, we started to head back to the house. Once we reached the house, I told Bishop Apuron I was going to leave and head home to my children. Bishop Apuron told me to hold on because he had something to give me. I saw him reached into his bag and handed me a picture of himself, a CD, and picture of Mother Mary. I looked him and I said, “Are you serious?” I left and that was the last time I have ever saw him again.
On June 7, 2016 I came back to Guam to tell my story of how the Archbishop of Guam raped me when I was a 12-year-old Alter Boy in Agat by having a press conference on the steps of Pastoral Center. Immediately after the press conference, I turned around and walked towards the front door of the Pastoral Center to deliver a copy of my statement, but the doors to the Pastoral Center were locked on me although the sign says it is open.
On the morning of June 12, 2016, shortly before I departed with my wife to return to Arizona, I marched with the CCOG, Laity Forward Movement, Silent No More, and others to protest for Archbishop Apuron to RESIGN. During the protest, I was surprised to see Archbishop Hon and another priest come out with another priest to say a few words to the protestors. I just immediately felt I had to reach out to this new archbishop where they were standing. I was standing to the right of him, less than 10 feet. I know that they could see me. I reached over and got the attention of the other priest and told him that I would like to speak to Archbishop Hon. I told him my name and said that I am one of the VICTIMS. They ignored my request. They then turned around and went inside the Cathedral. We followed them in to see what was going on, and when I heard from Archbishop Hon in his opening remarks something to the effect that these protests and protestors will all go away in a couple of weeks, I got so angry, grabbed my wife’s hand, said let’s go, left, and headed for the airport. I was so ANGRY and HURT that I was REJECTED AGAIN.
It has been more than a coupe of weeks and we are not going away.
How long do you think it takes to be raped?
For the victims of Agat, the sexual assault or rape may have lasted 20 minutes, 10 minutes, or maybe even 5 minutes. For me it felt like eternity. That’s how long it took for the attacks to end – but for every rape victim, it takes just a moment – a millisecond – to cross the threshold from someone who was not raped to someone who has had the most private parts of his or her mind and body violated in an irreversible way. From before to after. A moment that can never be undone or justified. A moment that will live on within me forever. There has not been a single day in my life that I don’t relive what had happen to me. People ask why now? Why did you wait so long to tell your story? Well, I did try to tell my story, but no one did anything about it. I was rejected then and was rejected now.
I read that most sexual assault survivors don’t report the crime right away, especially if the perpetrator is someone they know — which applies in about four-fifths of cases. In this case, it applies to me and as well as the other victims from Agat. Data from the Department of Justice indicates that rape and sexual assault are the least reported violent crimes, with only around a third of victims reporting. Even when survivors do go to their Church official or to the police, they routinely fail to fully investigate the claims of Sexual Abuse. Nationwide, as many as 500,000 rape kits still await testing. Inevitably, years would pass and the Statue of Limitations would bar a victim from having his day in court and to confront his accuser. So these victims bury it and suffer in silence, as I have.
Bill No.326-33, introduced by Senator Frank Blas, and now before your Committee, Senator Frank Aguon, will give all VICTIMS of SEXUAL Abuse, within or outside the Catholic Church, the opportunity to be silent no more, because it now gives them some recourse to be heard. It will give victims like Roy, Sonny, Roland, and me, our parents and families, and to those victims too afraid or intimidated to come forward, for fear of being call a LIAR and ARROGANTLY MOCKED by a POWERFUL ARCHBISHOP, his advisors and allies in the Catholic Church, some measure of justice and closure to the heinous crime that was inflicted on them. The SCAR will never go away but it can start to heal.
As it stands, the current law protects the predator from his past crimes once the Statute of Limitations kicks in. It protects these predators who commit these heinous crimes of RAPE and CHILD SEX ABUSE from being sued or prosecuted.
I am asking each of you, every Senator, to lift the Statute of Limitations so that people like Anthony Sablan Apuron and any other person or institution who have aided him or covered up for him will be held accountable for the the crimes they have committed against innocent children, like I was then. Moreover, we need to deter future predators from committing these heinous crimes by eliminating any time limitations on the right to sue or prosecute no matter how long ago.
Please, give us AGAT BOYS a chance to achieve some measure of justice and closure in our lives.
Si Yuus Mase.
Walter Gene Denton
TESTIMONY OF DORIS YAMASHITA CONCEPCION
Written testimony for Bill 326-33
June 27, 2016
My name is Doris Yamashita Concepcion. My son was Joseph Anthony Quinata (Sonny) and he was born on December 9, 1967. I am here to testify in favor of Bill 326-33 to remove the statute of limitations for child sex abuse.
On May 5, 2005 my son and I were on the way down the elevator, he was on his way down to surgery. And we knew he was dying, he had a perforated intestine. He only had a 30% chance of surviving the surgery. He kept saying “Mom, I am really the devil’s son?” I said no you’re not, what brought this up? He said Mom I love you and I’m sorry, and I said I love you too, don’t ever say that about the devil’s son. And he said Mom hold me close, and I bent down. It was me, him, and the tech that was taking him to surgery. I bent down and he goes Mom I can’t take this to my grave. I have to tell you. I said what. Sonny said “Fr Apuron molested me, when I was an alter boy in Agat. That’s why I turned out and I truly believed I was the devil’s son because that’s what Fr Apuron told me. That’s why I was mean towards you. I would fight you, I didn’t want to, I wanted to kill him, I wanted to burn him and his house down.” And that was the hardest thing for me. To hear those words which cut so deep in my heart. Especially the part when he said I wanted to kill him, I wish him dead. Its like, don’t say that, and then he goes, Mom, he molested me over and over. And I said did he rape you? And that’s when the elevator opened and they wheeled him out, and he never answered me, but he gave me a thumbs up as he left the elevator. And just when I was asking him did he rape you, they wheeled him out of the elevator and I never spoke to him again. I’m sure he did more than that to my son, but he didn’t have time to say.
Its been weighing so heavy in my heart, and I do believe that it was his spirit that prompted Roy to come out. All this time I kept thinking, I just celebrated his 11th year anniversary May 5 and I kept thinking of Mt Carmel Church and Fr Apuron. They kept coming to mind and my son and I could not connect the dots at all. And then finally when Roy came out I didn’t even know. I don’t know what was going on. But its like my son saying, Mom, its going to be ok. My sister called me up, I was so down that day. When my sister called me up long distance and said have you been on the internet to see Roy? And I said what’s going on? She said Roy is there talking about Fr Apuron back then. That was the first time I knew that Sonny was not the only victim of sex abuse in Agat. And I have to step up because I am the mother. And I need to speak up for my son, and for the boys. Anthony Apuron molested my son, Sonny was one of his victims.
When Sonny was growing up I had to leave Guam with my kids. I could not understand why he did so many things. They just could not get their lives together. Pale would come up and say Doris, I want, I need Sonny to help me early in the morning with the mass, get stuff prepared. And of course I trusted him. And so I said ok, I would scold my son, he refused, and I would even punish him at times. He wanted to burn the priests house down. He was doing stuff that I couldn’t understand. When they would set up, Father would want him to come set up for the mass, he just refused, and I would punish him. He would take the wine and drink it and then pee in the sacristy. He hated Fr Apuron. My son’s middle name is Anthony, okay. And he took his birth certificate from me and ripped it, and he said I do not want that name any more. I want it changed. And I wasn’t adding things up.
Sonny did not want to be Catholic, and we thought it was a joke. He would always say I am not a Catholic, I’m Jewish. And I said why do you say that Sonny? Because they give out gifts and they don’t put their kids down. And all those altar boys, they were all in the same group. And I can’t believe the man I trusted the most with my child did this to him. And now he’s hiding behind the Church, he’s using the Church. And I couldn’t help Sonny. I couldn’t do anything, he was afraid to confront me. Every time he looked at me he would cry.
Sonny passed away in May 5, 2005, in Hawaii. He was at Kilihi Hospital. He died of a perforated intestine. It was because he had turned to drugs and alcohol. He would just go in and out of rehab. Sonny could not hold onto a job for too long. He joined the Army but even that did not last too long. He was always getting himself into trouble with the law, and I couldn’t understand why. He was involved with different women, have babies with them and leave. He would disappear for months, then reappear, and check himself back into rehab.
In the final days he called me up and he goes, mom, this is it for me. And then I didn’t hear from him until his girlfriend called me up that he tried to OD on drugs and I flew to Hawaii. I flew to Hawaii and I spent a week with him. And he was just going downhill, and he kept apologizing, and I couldn’t understand and I said its ok, you’re going to be ok, and he goes, no, mom, I will never be ok.
Anthony Sablan Apuron destroyed my son’s life at a very young and tender age with his sexual abuse. He was only thinking of himself and how the law and his position as bishop protected him. I couldn’t understand why Sonny was so rebellious, especially towards Fr Apuron. Sonny would refuse to spend the night with Fr Apuron at his house, even after spanking and punishments. I still insisted that he spend the night there. I had no idea my boy was being molested by this priest.
You know its ironic, now I’m thinking because I know now what the boys were going through because as a child I was molested and I couldn’t say anything, it was just a no-no subject. I was molested by someone I loved and trusted when I was barely 8 years old, and into my teen years. I suffered in silence for over 60 years, and there was nothing I could do about it. It hurt me so deep I tried to commit suicide. And now to think that my son went through this what I went through and its so heart breaking and that I couldn’t reach out
I love and miss my son, I wish I had known. It’s so sad, like my husband said, that they finally opened the can of worms, and the truth is out. We trusted Apuron. Everyone trusted him. And this is what he did to our kids? I know Sonny’s smiling down and he’s saying its going to be ok Mom. Apuron cannot and must not be allowed to be an exception to justice. Apuron must take responsibility for his evil actions.
I am so grateful that the legislature is looking at this bill. These boys all thought they were all alone. For 40 years they thought they were the only victims. And then Roy came forward, and I knew Sonny was not the only one. For thirty years Archbishop Apuron could have helped these boys. But he did nothing to help them. Instead he chose to protect himself. If he had helped these boys, my son might still be alive. But Anthony Apuron continues to call me a liar. I want the statute of limitations opened up so I can take Fr Apuron to court. That is the only way I can make sure the truth will come out. I cannot rely on the Church to do this. They have done nothing so far, and I don’t expect them to until Anthony Apuron has to testify under oath. We need to eliminate any time limitation on sexual abuse. Not just for victims of Anthony Apuron, but for all victims who feel hopeless and forgotten. Your action will giver them a new life that they deserve
Also, when this bill passes, I believe it will give courage to all the other victims to come forth. Your action to remove the statute of limitations will finally allow justice for my son, for these boys, and for all other victims who continue to suffer in silence. Si Yu’us maase.
Doris Yamashita Concepcion
Mother of Joseph Anthony “Sonny” Quinata
TESTIMONY OF ROLAN PAUL LIZAMA SONDIA
June 27, 2016
Roland Paul Lizama Sondia
Agat, Gu 96928
Re: Testimony in favor of Bill 326-33
Hafa Adai and Good Morning Senators, my name is Roland Paul Lizama Sondia, age 54, of Agat, Guam. I am here to urge that you pass Bill No. 326-33.
When I was an Altar Boy at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Agat, at the age of 15 years old I was sexually assaulted and abused by our pastor and priest during a sleepover at the Mount Carmel Rectory.
In the summer, of 1977, in the middle of the night, I was sexually molested by then Father Anthony Sablan Apuron. It was around, 1 am, in the middle of the week, when a couple of altar boys and I were asleep on futons in the living room floor at the Mount Carmel Rectory. I was awakened when I felt someone tapping on my shoulder and calling my name. I looked up, and it was Father Anthony Apuron. When he saw that I woke up, he whispered saying “Roland, I need your help with something,” He then gestured to me to follow him and led me into his bedroom. I didn’t think anything of the situation because we were there to help the pastors. The room was dark and as I walked toward him, I asked if everything was okay and he motioned me to sit down. He sat next to me and put his hand on my shoulder. His hand was shaking. I started to feel very uncomfortable. He then said with a trembling voice, “Roland, I need your help.” He then said, that of all the altar boys, I was the one he can trust the most and I was the one he could rely on the most. I told him me and the boys are here to help out in any way we can. After a brief silence he then said to me, “do you want to try me?” I was very surprised and confused at what I thought he said. So I said “excuse me Father I didn’t quite hear you”. He then put his right arm around my shoulders and pulled me closer saying do you want to try me. Before I could do anything, he suddenly reached over and started rubbing and groping my privates. I told him to stop but he didn’t. Instead he continued on and this time squeezing my penis and kept saying “just try me.” It was painful and shocking. I tried to turn and kept trying to push his hand away but he held me even tighter. He was very strong. I don’t know how but I found the strength to break free and I ran to the door and out of his room. I then grabbed my belongings and ran out of the house. I went home crying. I was in shock, confused and humiliated. This was the priest that I always looked up to, and who was highly respected and revered by his Agat parishioners. I trusted this man and now he just abused and assaulted me. I didn’t know what to say and do. I was too ashamed to tell my parents or friends. I felt that no one would believe me especially my parents and other manamkos.
I had no idea or suspected that there were others. I thought I was the only one. I kept this dark secret with me for 39 years. I just tried to bury it and kept it from my wife, my kids, my parents, my siblings, and my friends.
Years later, when I was working in the PDN building, now the DNA building, I would always pass and look at the Cathedral where Father Apuron was to be ordained as bishop. I wondered then how the Catholic Church would make someone like Father Apuron a bishop. It was hurting me and making me mad. I stopped going to mass for a while because of it. I couldn’t imagine how a man like Father Apuron could sit up there in that tall chair at the Cathedral and pretend to be holy. How can he give out communion and hear confessions? It disgusted me.
It wasn’t until I read Walter’s statement that I realized that I was not the only one. Then I found out Roy was abused as well, after by chance I happened to be talking to him. It was weird how all these events and coincidences kept happening. I realized then perhaps God was asking me to come forward. I was not alone. There were others. As you know, I came forward and told my story on June 15, 2016. After my press conference, I tried to submit my statement addressed to the archbishop to the Pastoral Center, but I was locked out even though it was supposed to be open. The same thing that happened to Walter happened to me. The Church was not going to make it easy for me or any other victim to come forward. Instead of reaching out to Roy when he first came forward, Archbishop Apuron and his representatives instead called him a liar, saying that he was induced to make false testimonies by a conspiracy to smear and destroy Archbishop Apuron and the Catholic Church. That was the most ludicrous thing I ever heard and it made me mad and more determined to come forward. Then they said the same thing about Doris practically mocking the fact that Sonny was dead and so he can’t testify himself. That was horrible and vicious for Archbishop Apuron and his representatives to say. How can anyone imagine that a frail and old woman, the mother of a fellow altar boy, would come forward and talk that way about his dead son unless it was true? Then Walter came forward, and I expected then for the Church to finally acknowledge these victims and take appropriate and decisive action. But nothing again. No retraction. No action. Nothing.
No one from the Archdiocese or Archbishop Hon has reached out to me personally or informed me that my statement was being forwarded to Rome. I found that out through the media. I feel that we do not exist in the eyes of the Church. They are good at press releases, you tube releases, video releases, and telling their victims that they are liars. Nothing else.
Senators, I never told my wife and my family the details of my sexual abuse by Father Tony Apuron until a few days before I came forward. I know there are others and not only in Agat, but with the reception that Roy, Doris, Walter, and I have received by the hands of the Archdiocese so far, it is no wonder that they are reluctant and fearful to come forward. I support the lifting of the statute of limitation on child sex abuse so that victims of sexual abuse will know and have a tool to fight back and to find justice. We need it, not only for existing victims, but future victims as well. We need to abolish any kind of statute of limitation for sex abuse crimes so that potential perpetrators will know that no amount of time will prevent a victim from coming forward to sue and for the government to prosecute. We pray and hope that upon the passage and signing of this bill, other victims will come forward so that they can begin the long road towards healing and recovery. We have to repair our past, contain the present, and protect our future…our children.
TESTIMONY OF ROY QUINTANILLA
Testimony of Roy Quintanilla
Hafa Adai senators, my name is Sharleen Santos Bamba and I am here to read my Uncle Roy Quintanilla’s statement because he is not able to be here. Uncle Roy was ready to come and testify but he discovered just last week that his younger brother Peter, who has downs syndrome and has been under his custodial care for 21 years, was diagnosed with Stage III cancer and requires immediate treatment. In addition, his older brother, Michael, is in a hospital in Honolulu and seriously ill. The following is my Uncle Roy’s statement.
“Hafa Adai senators, my name is Roy T. Quintanilla, and I would like to testify that I support and urge the passage of Bill No.326-33.
As a victim of child sexual abuse, I was sexually abused when I was 12 years old and an altar boy, by a priest that was respected throughout the community. He was my pastor, Fr. Tony Apuron. Fr. Apuron had planned to lure me into his house to sexually assault me. He went to my parent’s home and asked for their permission for me to sleep at the priest house, with the excuse that he needed my help at the church in the early morning. My parents gave their permission believing that I would be safe; but instead, when the priest and I were alone in his house, he insisted that I sleep with him in his bed, and then he molested me. I was shocked, scared, hurt, alone, and confused with no one to turn to; I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t tell my parents, siblings, or friends, for fear that no one would believe me, and if I said anything, that I would criticized, punished, and embarrassed for accusing our priest, our pastor, of sexual abuse,. That thought terrified me enough to not say anything so I tried my best to deal with it alone. I thought of suicide many times because the stress was a tremendous weight on me. I felt sorry for myself, I lost my faith and trust in the very person that we all thought would be the last person to ever do such an egregious act on anyone, let alone a child. I told another priest at the same house, months later, but nothing was done, so I remained silent thinking I was the only victim. I carried the guilt and shame with me for 40 years, until I came forward recently. It wasn’t until I discovered, by chance, that other altar boys, friends of mine that I grew up with, happen to share stories of our past that included being sexually abused by the same priest. It was then that we decided to take the risk and confront the person that molested us, and we agreed to accept whatever the consequence would be for coming forward. I came forward because it was the right thing to do for myself, my friends, and especially because I feared that there might be others that were sexually abused by Fr. Anthony. Even after coming forward in my press conference on May 17, Apuron, now archbishop, continued to lie about it and hide behind the cloth, and the church, and claimed that our coming forward was an attempt to smear his name and divide the church and the faithful, and calling us victims, liars. I made sure when I came forward that I was confronting the person and not the church.
Since May 17, 2016, when I submitted my statement to the Chancery, neither Archbishop Apuron, Apostolic administrator Archbishop Hon Tai Fan, or any representative from the archdiocese has reached out to me to help, support, apologize, or to reconcile. Instead, they have called me a LAIR. The Archbishop hides behind the church, and said that I was trying to smear the church with lies. Their statements has never been retracted. This is evidence that Archbishop Apuron has no remorse for what he did to me, and how he hides behind the church and as if I was trying to divide the church when instead, it took everything I had to confront the person that committed such a deplorable act to me.
No one, especially a child should ever have to go through being sexually abused or be afraid to come forward and tell someone for fear that no one would believe him or her. Sexual abuse is a traumatic and horrifying experience for any adult, let alone a child, and when a perpetrator threatens a child if he or she tells anyone is in itself evil and vicious.
Any victim of sexual abuse knows that the experience is life changing in the worst way. For many victims, and myself thoughts of suicide was often and common and numerous victims go through with it. Sexual abuse robs societies, families, friends, communities, of their loved ones.
Lifting the statutes of limitations on child sexual abuse, encourages and allows victims to come forward in hopes of finding closure, and to find justice for their pain and suffering for a crime that caused them tremendous pain and suffering. It will also serves as a deterrent to potential predators by sending a serious message that our people takes child sexual abuse very seriously and that harsh punishments are the consequences in store for all sexual predators.
No child should ever be denied the opportunity to seek justice for a heinous crime based on statues of limitations. Coming forward is not easy and only victims know when the time is right. Is it fair that I not be allowed closure or justice for what happen to me as a child? Is it fair that a sexual predator (pedophile) be allowed to get away with molesting children because their protected by a statutes of limitations? Please do the right thing and lift and or abolish the statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse.