‘Hope and Healing’ devoted to helping abuse victims

664
Michael Caspino, the director of the new Hope and Healing program and settlement fund to assist victims of clergy sexual abuse speaks to reporters at a news conference held Tuesday, April 11 at the St. John Paul the Great Center on San Ramon Hill. The new Hope and Healing Hotline in the background beckons victims of child abuse in the archdiocese to call 1-888-649-5288. (Umatuna Si Yu’os photo by Tony C. Diaz/editor@umatuna.org.)

Hope and Healing Hotline Number

1-888-649 5288

By Tony C. Diaz
Umatuna Si Yu’os

Reinforcing its commitment to provide care and restoration to all victims of clergy sexual abuse, the Archdiocese of Agana this week introduced the director of the independent group which will administer the settlement fund for victims.

It’s all about Hope and Healing.

“We’re putting the victims first here,” declared Mike Caspino. “That’s the whole emphasis upon what we are trying to do here.”

The California-based attorney spoke to reporters after being introduced by Archbishop Michael Byrnes during a news conference held last Tuesday, April 11 at the St. John Paul the Great Center for Evangelization.

With many years of experiencing helping hundreds of victims and working with dioceses across the country, Caspino spoke slowly and deliberately as he outlined the mission of the program called Hope and Healing.

“There is a great deal of pain on this island that has been caused by this abuse and we want to do everything we can to help in that pain,” he said. “Maybe it’s someone who has not put out a claim. Maybe it’s someone who’s carrying that heavy burden of being a victim on their shoulders in silence.”

Archbishop Byrnes had announced last March that the archdiocese would reach out to victims of clergy sexual abuse by establishing a victim’s settlement fund. The fund would develop as the archdiocese raises money through the liquidation of assets and resources. The review of archdiocesan assets is a daunting task for which members of the Archdiocesan Finance Council (AFC) have been devoting a great deal of their time.

The number of people who have filed lawsuits and claims of sexual abuse against the archdiocese is now close to numbering in the 50s, with several law firms now representing the claimants.

“My main commitment to this is to the healing of the victims … and we’re ready to do whatever it takes to accomplish that,” Archbishop told everyone at the news conference.

Traveling to Guam this week, Caspino was here to meet with Archbishop Byrnes and others in the archdiocese and to set up the office and program locally. He emphasized that the Hope and Healing program exists to help all victims of clergy abuse on Guam, whether they are involved in litigation or not.

During the news conference, Caspino described their mission and the process toward helping victims.

“We are creating a separate, independent entity that will be charged with resolving each and every one of these claims and will be charged with even going even further,” he told reporters.

“We will be appointing a board of people from Guam. Five to seven people who will assist in evaluating each and every claim to determine what each claimant needs to heal claim and to be restored and resolving the cases,” Caspino said.

Their focus is not only helping victims but helping victims in an expedient manner.

“We hope to do this not within years, but within the next few months,” he said, referring to the review process of victims who come forward with claims or request for assistance. “We hope to do this on a very expedited time table.”

Hope and Healing Hotline created

Caspino unveiled a vital component of the Hope and Healing program. He implored all who have been hurt by clergy abuse on Guam to call a special hotline number that he had already established just a few days after arriving on Guam.

The Hope and Healing Hotline is 1-888-649-5288 and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“We have the Hope and Healing Hotline and we are asking anyone who feels the pain of childhood sexual abuse to call that hotline,” Caspino said. “It’ll be operated by the Hope and Healing fund.”

“If you call that hotline we will get you the help you need right now, in a confidential manner to help you to start healing,” Caspino said.

“We want to bring people to become healed and to spiritually be brought back into the Church,” he said. “I have spoked to the archbishop on this on several occasions and I know his dedication runs very deep.”