Guam--Vatican put priest accused of sexual harassment on Apuron Tribunal, Victims group responds
We are outraged to learn a Sioux Falls television station investigation discovered that one of the five priests involved in the Canonical Trial of Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron had been accused of sexual harassment in 2014 by a parish employee.
Fr. Justin Wachs, the Notary in Archbishop Anthony Apuron's Canonical Trial, was presented to these brave survivors and the public as a trustworthy person who, survivors assumed, had never been accused of sexual misconduct. The brave men told Wachs their deeply personal stories of sexual abuse and betrayal. They trusted the Vatican and its representatives so much, that they agreed to speak without their attorneys in the room.
The presence of Fr. Wachs—without his disclosing the accusations against him to the survivors, their attorneys, and the Catholic faithful—was a complete violation of that trust.
We believe this violation proves once again that neither the Vatican nor its representatives take Apuron's alleged sexual abuse of children seriously.
Archbishop Byrnes must take immediate action and apologize to everyone who testified in front of Fr. Wachs. Hopefully, Archbishop Byrnes will also get answers as to why a man with a history such as Wachs's was allowed closed-door access to some of Guam’s bravest survivors.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contacts - Melanie Jula Sakoda (925-708-6175, firstname.lastname@example.org), Joelle Casteix (949-322-7434, email@example.com), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.