The Archdiocese of Agana’s former chancellor has been named in a civil complaint filed in the District Court of Guam as the alleged abuser of a then- altar boy.
Rev. Adrian Cristobal is accused of sexually molesting and abusing the former altar boy between 1995 and 1997 at the San Vicente/San Roke Catholic Church in Barrigada.
The former altar boy, who used his initials L.J.C. to protect his identity, is represented by attorney David Lujan, who filed the lawsuit Tuesday.
The lawsuit alleges the first incident of sexual abuse occurred when L.J.C. was 12. Cristobal summoned the boy into his office and scolded him for his shirt being untucked during Mass, the lawsuit states.
Cristobal allegedly instructed the boy to undo his pants to show him how to properly tuck in his shirt. The complaint alleges the priest grabbed the boy’s genitals and asked, “Do you like that?”
Cristobal is accused of masturbating the boy and again asking him, “Do you like that?” the lawsuit states.
L.J.C. pushed the priest away and ran out of the office all the way home, the lawsuit alleges.
After the incident, Cristobal allegedly would hug and caress L.J.C.’s ears whenever he saw him, making the boy “very uncomfortable.”
During a retreat at a private beach in Ipan, L.J.C. recalled certain priests, including Cristobal, staying in one big tent and altar servers staying in several small tents. He remembers Cristobal summoning the boys one by one into the big tent, and when his name was called, L.J.C. refused to go in but recalled hearing some of the boys saying, “Stop. You’re hurting me!” the complaint states.
After the retreat, L.J.C. noticed that some of the altar boys stopped coming to church and serving during Mass.
The last incident of sexual abuse allegedly occurred after L.J.C. finished serving Mass for a funeral and was changing his clothes. He alleges Cristobal came into the room, locked the door and allegedly squeezed the boy’s genitals so hard it caused L.J.C. to be in extreme pain, the lawsuit states.
The complaint states L.J.C. quit being an altar boy because he was unable to handle the pain, humiliation and embarrassment inflicted upon him. The boy kept silent about the abuse but began acting out as a cry for help.
The lawsuit seeks $5 million in damages.
Cristobal, who is still listed as a priest under the Archdiocese of Agana’s clergy directory, is described as being “on mission.”
Last year, Concerned Catholics of Guam President David Sablan questioned the archdiocese’s decision to send Cristobal to study canon law in Canada. The organization accused Cristobal of mismanaging and being untruthful about the use of Chancery funds and the seminary and alleged the assignment was a “reward for his misdeeds.”
In 2017, in a letter to Archbishop Michael Byrnes, Sablan accused Cristobal of blocking people from speaking with then-Archbishop Anthony Apuron about sexual abuse. “Cristobal prevented them from actually discussing it with the archbishop, in effect violating their own policy. So, he really wasn’t following any of the rules on trying to protect the victims … with sexual abuse,” Sablan told The Guam Daily Post. A Vatican tribunal has found Apuron guilty of certain deeds. Apuron was accused of molesting Guam altar boys when he was a priest decades ago.
Cristobal was the archdiocese chancellor under Apuron and was considered an extension of Apuron’s leadership, Sablan stated.
The CCOG president believes Cristobal is “pretty much removed” from the archdiocese after he left Guam after ignoring a direct assignment from Byrnes to work at the San Dionicio parish in Umatac in 2017.
Former archdiocese chancellor accused of sexual abuse being called back to Guam
Pacific Daily News
After former altar boys tearfully went public with allegations, a law was passed to open doors for lawsuits against the church, clergy and others. Wochit
Former Archdiocese of Agana Chancellor Adrian Cristobal, currently a priest on a mission to the Diocese of Phoenix in Arizona, is being called back to Guam after he was accused in a lawsuit of sexually molesting and abusing a Barrigada parish altar boy on several occasions, from about 1995 to 1997.
The Diocese of Phoenix will be notified of the claims of child sexual abuse filed against Cristobal, according to Tony Diaz, the Archdiocese of Agana’s director of communication. Diaz said this is because the complaint against Cristobal will be handled in accordance with the Archdiocese of Agana’s sexual abuse and sexual misconduct policy.
“Father Adrian, while a priest of the Archdiocese of Agana, is currently off-island. He was given permission to be on mission in the Diocese of Phoenix since December 2017, but because of the complaint filed against him, he is now being called back to Guam,” Diaz said.
While in Phoenix, Cristobal hasn’t been receiving a salary or honorarium from the Archdiocese of Agaña, Diaz said.
This is the first time Cristobal has been named a defendant in a clergy abuse lawsuit. More than 160 clergy sex abuse lawsuits have been filed in local and federal courts.
The plaintiff is identified in District Court of Guam documents as L.J.C. for the protection of his privacy.
The archdiocese, in a statement, said it acknowledges the newest lawsuit and allegation of clergy sexual abuse filed against the archdiocese and a Catholic priest.
“The archdiocese extends prayers for L.J.C and all persons who have come forward recently and in the past with claims of sexual abuse by Guam Catholic clergy or lay persons,” the statement says. “We take all allegations of sexual abuse very seriously.”
Under Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes, the archdiocese has revamped and strengthened its sexual abuse and sexual misconduct policy.
This includes aligning its policy with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ stringent Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and implementing mandatory live and on-line training of all clergy, employees and volunteers.
L.J.C.’s lawsuit, filed on Tuesday afternoon, says the sexual abuses include those that took place in the Barrigada parish’s office after Mass at a private beach in Ipan during a retreat, and after a funeral Mass.
At the Ipan beach retreat, L.J.C. refused to go into a big tent when Cristobal summoned him and other boys to go in. The lawsuit states L.J.C. recalls hearing some boys who went into the tent say, “Stop. You’re hurting me.”
“After this retreat, L.J.C. noticed that some of the altar boys stopped coming to church and serving Mass,” the complaint says.
The last incident of sexual abuse, according to the lawsuit, occurred after L.J.C. just finished serving at a funeral Mass. He was changing clothes when the priest came into his room and locked the door, the lawsuit states.
Lawsuit: Priest caused extreme pain
As the boy tried to walk around the priest to exit the room, Cristobal grabbed L.J.C. and squeezed his private part so hard it caused the boy extreme pain, the lawsuit says.
L.J.C. quit being an altar boy after that because he could no longer handle the pain, humiliation and embarrassment, the complaint says.
L.J.C., now 35, is represented by attorney David Lujan and demands $5 million in minimum damages in a lawsuit that named Cristobal, the Archdiocese of Agana and up to 50 others as defendants.
The lawsuit says Cristobal sexually molested and abused L.J.C. when the boy was about 12 through 14 years old. The lawsuit says L.J.C. was an altar boy at San Vicente Ferrer and San Roke Catholic Church at the time when Cristobal was a priest there.
Ordained in 1989 by Apuron
The lawsuit says Cristobal was ordained as a priest on Sept. 30, 1989 by then-Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron. A Vatican tribunal in March found Apuron guilty of certain of accusations, in a case that involved allegations of child sexual abuses.
Cristobal was the chancellor of the Archdiocese of Agana during Apuron’s time. When Apuron was placed on leave in June 2016, a temporary administrator sent to Guam by the Vatican replaced Cristobal as chancellor.
At the time time, while Cristobal vacated his curia position, he retained his position as pastor of San Vicente Ferrer and San Roke Parish in Barrigada.
Unhappy with reassignment by Hon
Late September, 2016, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai reassigned Cristobal as pastor of San Dionisio Church in Umatac after years of being pastor in Barrigada.
Cristobal at the time expressed his disappointment in an Oct. 4 letter to parishioners, stating Hon’s announcement came as a shock and surprise to him.
“Hon did not afford me the right to due process. Therefore, I am in communication with him and have respectfully requested that this matter be resolved in a conciliatory and judicious manner,” Cristobal stated in the letter.
Months later, the archdiocese announced sending Cristobal to study canon law in Ottawa, Canada.
Reporter Haidee Eugenio covers Guam’s Catholic church issues, education, government, business and more. Follow her on Twitter @haidee_eugenio. Follow Pacific Daily News on Facebook/GuamPDN and Instagram @guampdn.