Updated: Jun 15, 2021
By Johnnie Rosario
One childhood rape survivor's lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Church just got very real. The plaintiff, known only by initials "D.M.," who was raped when he was 14, has successfully served the Vatican with his lawsuit, and now has petitioned attorney Marci Hamilton to join his legal team against the church.
Ms. Hamilton is the real deal. She has been actively admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court since 1996, and since 1989, she has applied for and successfully been admitted before the majority of the nation's courts of appeals. She now is applying to practice before the U.S. District Court of Guam on DM's case, which is against the Holy See, ex-bishop Anthony Apuron, the Archbishop of Agana, the Capuchin Franciscans, and Father Duenas Memorial School.
She also is the CEO and academic director of CHILD USA in Philadelphia.
"CHILD USA engages in high-level legal, social science, and medical research and analysis to derive the best public policies to end child abuse and neglect in America," according to www.childusa.org, the group's website.
Ms. Hamilton is an internationally-acclaimed scholar, and according to Princeton University, "is one of the nation's leading church/state scholars, as well as an expert on federalism and representation."
The law and public affairs program at Princeton says, "Professor Hamilton is frequently asked to advise Congress and state legislatures on the constitutionality of pending legislation and to consult in cases involving important constitutional issues. She is the First Amendment advisor for victims in many clergy abuse cases involving many religious institutions, including the federal bankruptcies filed by the San Diego, Portland, and Spokane Dioceses. She also represents a number of cities and neighborhoods challenging the constitutionality of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act."
Aside from her lengthy career as a private attorney, an advocate for children and legal issues that protect children, and a remarkable array of academic contributions and achievements, Ms. Hamilton also clerked for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. She has appeared on several national news networks on the topic of child sex abuse and other matters, authored and co-authored dozens of books and publications, and argued before scores of courts ranging from local and federal courts in several states to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Dotts Law Firm in Saipan, co-counsel for DM alongside McDonald Law Firm in Guam, wrote the following description of what happened to DM at the hands of Anthony Apuron, and how the Vatican knew and participated in the cover up of the crimes:
"When our client (“D.M.”) was 14 years old, he enrolled at Father Dueñas Memorial School in Guam. Although he lived in Saipan, his parents sent him to Guam to obtain a better education at this private school. Since Father Dueñas Memorial School did not offer boarding on weekends, arrangements were made for D.M. to stay with Anthony Sablan Apuron, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Agaña, on weekends.
"During the ‘94-95 school year, D.M. stayed with Apuron for approximately twenty-seven weekends. This is graphic, and will be hard for some people to read, but one weekend night D.M. was awakened by the sound of his door opening. Apuron made his way to D.M.’s bed quietly and began touching himself. Apuron eventually placed his hand down D.M.’s pajama pants and sexually assaulted him. Apuron eventually left the room and D.M. cried for a couple of hours. Sometime late in the same evening or early morning, D.M. awoke again feeling Apuron on top of him. D.M. was then raped by Apuron. Apuron hurt him. He couldn’t move. He was pinned down. D.M. yelled for Apuron to stop, but Apuron continued. The rape seemed like it would never stop. The pain felt like it would never stop.
"During the ’94-95 school year, Apuron entered the room where D.M. was sleeping and raped D.M., multiple times. D.M. could not get away. He was afraid and embarrassed, so he did not tell anyone. He suffered through it.
"Sexual assault on anyone is horrific but when it is done to a young boy by a Priest, words cannot describe how revolting and maddening it is.
"D.M. got back to Saipan at the end of the school term and refused to enroll in Father Dueñas Memorial School again. D.M. did not tell his parents why he refused to go back. D.M. did not know how to handle the sexual assaults he had suffered. Apuron was the Archbishop of Guam. A powerful and important person, and if D.M. accused such a person, D.M. was sure no one would believe him.
"The sexual abuse D.M. experienced has had lasting effects on his life. He was unable to complete graduate school. He started drinking. He had problems with his relationships. All of this because of the sexual assaults he suffered at the hands of Apuron. Under the care of the Catholic Church on Guam. Under the jurisdiction and control of the Holy See in Vatican City.
"D.M. first sued Apuron in the Superior Court of Guam and then amended his complaint to add the Holy See as a defendant. Later, Apuron removed the lawsuit to the District Court for Guam. Despite filing suit, D.M. needed help from the federal court in Guam to serve the Holy See through letters rogatory. The grant of our client’s Motion for Letters Rogatory marks the first time the federal court in Guam has granted this type of motion to serve the Holy See. This watershed moment puts our client, a survivor of sexual abuse by the Archbishop of Guam at age 14, one step closer to justice.
"Despite efforts by survivors of sexual abuse to sue the Holy See, it has never been held accountable for the sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy. Motions for letters rogatory have been granted and the Holy See has been served by federal courts in Oregon, Kentucky, and Wisconsin, among others, but these lawsuits have either been dismissed or withdrawn. Dotts Law Office hopes that this time the Holy See is held accountable for its negligence in failing to stop the sexual abuse of children by the Catholic Church."