HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — A former altar boy became the third person to publicly accuse Guam’s archbishop of sexual abuse four decades ago, a newspaper reported Wednesday.
Roland Paul L. Sondia, 54, said he was 15 when Archbishop Anthony Apuron, then a parish priest, abused him during a sleepover in a church rectory in 1977, the Pacific Daily News reported (http://bit.ly/21mlTr9 ).
Two other men have come forward to accuse Apuron of sexual assault while they were minors in the 1970s.
Apuron has not been charged with any crime. He has denied abuse allegations.
A phone number listed for Apuron was disconnected. The archdiocese didn’t offer a number to The Associated Press where Apuron could be reached for comment on the latest allegation.
Sondia spoke publicly at a news conference, saying he has tried to put the abuse behind him but felt that he should come forward when childhood friends began sharing similar stories in May.
Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai, a temporary administrator appointed by the Vatican after the allegations resurfaced, said in a statement that the archdiocese will take the situation into “serious consideration” and present it to the Vatican, which has final authority in cases related to bishops.
On Thursday, Hon Tai Fai rescinded a recent decree that was aimed at preventing Catholics from associating with a group that calls for Apuron’s removal.
Apuron issued the decree opposing association with Concerned Catholics of Guam on June 5.
Group official David Sablan called Apuron’s decree a gag order. He described his organization as “concerned Catholics seeking the truth.”
Sondia recalled that Apuron woke him at the 1977 sleepover and gestured for Sondia to follow him to his room, where Sondia said he was abused. Sondia said he found the strength to break free and ran out the front door of the rectory.
“Everything happened so fast. I was in shock, I was confused, offended, humiliated and disappointed that the man I looked up to had just asked me if I wanted to have sex with him,” Sondia said, according to the newspaper. “I cried as I walked home that night.”
Sondia stopped serving at any of the Masses that Apuron celebrated. But he said he felt that he could not tell anyone what happened because he didn’t think they would believe him.
“My parents always felt that they didn’t have to worry about me knowing that I was at the rectory helping the priest,” he said.
Sondia is information technology manager at the Pacific Daily News, where he has worked since 1981.
The Associated Press does not generally name people who say they are victims of sex crimes. Sondia, however, spoke publicly at a news conference.