Guam Catholic Church scandal continues due to payment plan disputes
In 2016, Guam’s Roman Catholic Church, the Archdiocese of Agaña, was accused of sexually assaulting children since the 1960s, with over 270 lawsuits being filed against 20 priests of the Archdiocese. To address the lawsuits, the Archdiocese filed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy to settle the lawsuits. The Chapter 11 bankruptcy allowed the Archdiocese to reorganize their finances to stay in business and pay their victims without going into indefinite debt. After completely restructuring their finances, the Archdiocese proposed a payment plan in which $27 to $38 million will be allocated to pay the sexual assault victims.
Now, the Archdiocese is set to partake in two consecutive trials in regard to the proposed plans. The first one, beginning on February 18, will determine whether or not the Archdiocese can use assets from their Catholic schools and parishes to be included in the payment plan towards the claimants. The Archdiocese supposedly holds the disputed properties as a trustee and these schools and parishes are beneficiaries of the trust, implying a resulting trust. However, in 2019, a complaint filed by the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors said the Archbishop of Agaña did not have the Catholic schools and parishes as owned property when the Chapter 11 bankruptcy was filed. The creditor committee representing the victims claims that the resulting trust is an action that safeguards the rest of the Archdiocese’s assets from the claimants.
On March 4, the bankruptcy court will start conducting a hearing in regards to the payment plan to either confirm or deny the proposed plan. This trial will officially determine if the payment plan can be used to pay back the victims. The creditor committee representing the victims and other creditors is proposing a plan where the Archdiocese will pay at least $100 million to creditors in contrast to the Archdiocese’s proposed payment plans ranging from $27 to $38 million. Additionally, the results of the February trial will have a big impact on the decisions made during the March trial. Each side has asked the court to deny the other side’s plan and approve their respective plan, citing insufficient evidence and major flaws in each other’s proposals.
These two trials are very important, especially considering the recent accusations against Roman Catholics in other nations during this changing time that calls for justice. The verdicts of these will begin the end to the tainted history of the Archdiocese of Agaña.