Atty. Jacque Terlaje argued that the law that lifts the statute of limitations is inorganic.
Guam – As sex abuse cases against the Archdiocese of Agana continue to be filed, Archbishop Anthony Apuron’s attorney Jacque Terlaje argues a motion to dismiss the four sexual abuse cases against her client saying that the claims are time-barred.
Terlaje argued her client’s motion to dismiss on two grounds.
“We have asked the court to dismiss the complaint involving the four Archbishop Anthony cases and that is simply because the plain statutory reading of the statue, that it did not apply to old cases such as the one Archbishop Anthony is involved in,” stated Terlaje.
Terlaje is referring to the statute of limitations for filing a criminal sexual conduct complaint and what constitutes due process. According to Terlaje, the claims are time-barred and were not revived by the passage of Public Law 33-187. She further states that even if the claims were revived, any retrospective application is inorganic and unconstitutional.
“It’s inorganic and basically what happens is when there is a law passed, there has to be a retroactive expressed provision. And so if there is no retroactive expressed provision, it does not apply retroactively. Laws are intended to apply prospectively, that means moving forward and not backwards,” argued Terlaje.
She further argued that by retroactively changing the statute of limitations involving sexual abuse on Guam, the Guam Legislature unconstitutionally impaired vested rights, opening the door to unverifiable and potentially undefendable claims, which, Terlaje states, creates a prejudicial environment for her client’s defense.
She argues that the cases against Archbishop Apuron date back to events that occurred nearly 40 years ago.
“Essentially the judge was saying the 1980 law no longer exists because it was repealed by the legislature in place of the 2011 law and I said, ‘Yes, that would be right, judge, except it only applies to the causes of action that became time barred at that particular time frame,'” explained Terlaje.
Terlaje states that her client suffers significant hardships and oppressive effects in his defense for the following reasons: that Apuron is now of an advance age and lacks the memory to recall potential witnesses and specific facts from 40 years ago which would aid his defense and that witnesses may be deceased or of advanced age.
She argues that there are no records dating back to 1970s to assist in his defense and the lack of physical evidence significantly impairs Apuron’s defense.
Terlaje adds that the Organic Act of Guam forbids the deprivation of life, liberty and property, prohibiting the legislature from categorically taking from a defendant the ability to plead his defense that the statute of limitations is expired.
Meanwhile, legal counsel for Roy Quintinilla, one of the plaintiffs, argues that the only person that has benefited from the passage of time is Archbishop Apuron. Attorney David Lujan states that Apuron would not have risen to the seat of Archbishop if the claims had been filed 40 years ago, adding that Apuron’s denial of the claims speaks to his memory.
US Magistrate Judge Joaquin Manibusan is currently reviewing the motion to dismiss.
In regards to Archbishop Apuron’s canonical trial, Terlaje says they are looking forward to a determination by the Vatican and anticipate that a decision will soon be made.