By Tony C. Diaz
Umatuna Si Yu’os
The Archdiocese of Agaña began an important step in the Chapter 11, bankruptcy process this week which sets a comprehensive claims process for survivors of child sex abuse by clergy in our Church on Guam.
Following requirements under the District Court of Guam, the archdiocese began publicizing information and the deadline notice to file for abuse survivors who would file claims of sexual abuse against the archdiocese under its bankruptcy reorganization. The announcement is called in court terms, the Publication Notice.
Persons have until August 15, 2019 to file their claims against the church.
Contending with more than 200 lawsuits related to clergy sexual abuse filed against it, the archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in the United States District Court of Guam on January 1.
“Our motivation for going to this measure has been and still is our desire to bring the greatest measure of justice and consolation to those who have suffered at the hands of clergy,” Archbishop Byrnes said at a news conference the same day. “We take responsibility for the sins of the past…”
Complying with legal requirements under Chapter 11 reorganization, the archdiocese has published advertisements of the Publication Notice in more than two dozen publications on Guam and off-island, in most cases beginning Wednesday, May 15, 2019.
The court order stipulates that the debtor (the archbishop) shall provide notice of the “Sexual Abuse Claims Bar Date and the General Claims Bar Date” by publishing the “Publication Notice” twice in a list of stipulated publications. The first publication is required to occur within two weeks of the service of the Bar Date Notice Package and the second publication to occur 30 days prior to the expiration of the General and Sexual Abuse Bar Date. That timeframe sets a 90-day window for possible claimants to file, with the final day being August 15.
Advertisements of the same notice are required to appear in the same publications on July 16, 2019, 30 days before the August 15 deadline.
The notices are being published in newspapers such as: the Pacific Daily News, Guam Daily Post and the archdiocesan newspaper, Umatuna Si Yu’os in Guam; the Saipan Tribune and Marianas Variety in Saipan; the Honolulu Star Advertiser and Catholic Herald in Hawaii.
The notice is also advertised in U.S. mainland publications such as the Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury-News, San Diego Union-Tribune, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Reno Gazette-Journal, Reno News & Review, the Arizona Republic in Phoenix, Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, the Oregonian, Portland, the Register-Guard, the Denver Post, Colorado Springs Gazette, Pueblo Chieftain, Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman-Review and the Herald.
As well, the “Publication Notice” is appearing in Catholic publications in the mainland, specifically the National Catholic Reporter and the National Catholic Register.
Requests to parishes, agencies
The archdiocese also mailed a letter signed by Archbishop Byrnes to all pastors of its parishes and “missions” as well as specified agencies such as the Guam Police Department, Attorney General, and mental health and public health agencies and some Guam groups off-island asking them to post the Sexual Abuse Bar Date Notice Package on their websites if they maintain one.
It included a stamped self-addressed envelope with a form which the recipients were asked to fill out indicating if they would follow the request or not – and mail back to the archdiocese.
All combined, the archdiocese mailed 101 such envelopes to groups through the U.S. postal system.
The Bar Date Notice Package comprises two documents: the “Notice of Deadline for Filing Claims Relating to or Arising from Sexual Abuse” and its associated “Sexual Abuse Proof of Claim” form, issued in Case No. 19-00010 by the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Guam.
The Publication Notice is printed on Page 3 of this Sunday’s Umatuna and on the website at https://aganaarch.org.
The archdiocese has also complied with a stipulation by the court to establish a help line for those interested in filing claims. The following information is published as part of the advertising nationwide:
For more information on how to obtain and file a proof of claim for and associated documents please (a) visit the Debtor’s website at https://aganaarch.org; (b) call the Debtor’s hotline at 1-800-571-0657 or (c) call the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors appointed in this case at 1-800-484-3513.