Thursday, 20 April 2017

"Dozens and dozens" have called Hope and Healing hotline since launch

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Executive Director Michael Caspino emphasizes that he has no decision-making role in the program which is a concern raised by Attorney David Lujan.

Guam - While Attorney David Lujan calls the Hope and Healing effort a scam because of the way it is currently set up, its executive director Attorney Michael Caspino seems to paint a different picture of his meetings with Lujan so far.

"The article did come up and I told him that it must mean he really likes me," Caspino quipped. "And he got a good laugh out of that."

It appears as though the two attorneys have gotten over their differences. In an interview with Lujan yesterday, the attorney representing a majority of the clergy sex abuse victims slammed the Hope and Healing program, calling it a scam. Specifically, Lujan did not agree that Caspino, who was hired by the Archdiocese of Agana for this effort, should also serve as the program’s executive director. But Caspino said the matter was never brought up at his meeting with Lujan this morning.

"He did not bring that up. But the only thing I have to say to that is a couple things. One is as the executive director I’m not making any decisions here. The decisions are all going to be made by our board of local Guam residents. That’s a first ting. The second thing is I am totally independent of the archdiocese," noted Caspino.

Even if the matter wasn’t brought up, Caspino said he would be amenable to the possibility of having two executive directors serve on the project as Lujan had suggested in his interview with PNC Wednesday. Caspino also said that he would be open to having Lujan’s clients have a say in who the board members should be.

"I’m open to any, to discussion of any suggestion that will move these cases to resolution and get people the healing they need," he said.

Meanwhile, Caspino says in the last week since the hotline was opened, they have already received numerous calls from victims of clergy abuse.

"There have dozens and dozens of calls and the response has been very positive. We have been able to get many of these people already into counseling," explained Caspino.

Capino could not divulge whether any of those callers were also plaintiffs in any of the 53 lawsuits filed so far, but he did say that none of the cases stem from recent incidents. He also revealed that he’s been on some of those phone calls himself.

"We have counselors who are available but have I been on those calls? I have. It’s important for me to hear from the victims and it’s important for me as we go forward also for me to meet with other victims and talk to them too. I wanna hear what these victims have to say," Caspino said.

The Hope and Healing Guam program was launched last Tuesday in which the Archdiocese of Agana announced the Caspino would serve as executive director. Caspino also announced that they are in the process of choosing the makeup of the board which will consist of various upstanding members of the community from different backgrounds to include law enforcement, medicine, psychiatry or psychology and social work, among others.

Caspino encourages victims of clergy sexual abuse to call the Hope and Healing hotline at 1-888-649-5288.



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