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Federal judge affirms constitutionality of child sex abuse lawsuits

By Johnnie Rosario

Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood, in an order rejecting retired cop Albert John "AJ" Balajadia's motion to dismiss Larry Rupley's lawsuit against him said she rejects Balajadia's motion for the same reasons she rejected previous similar motions made attempting to throw out hundreds of lawsuits by rape victims of the Catholic Church.

Mr. Rupley is suing Balajadia in federal court for raping him in the 1980s, when Rupley only was 8 years old. The criminal statute of limitations, which applied at the time of the rape, ran out decades ago, barring a criminal prosecution against Balajadia. However, the Guam Legislature in 2015 lifted the civil statute of limitations and allowed victims of abuse to seek civil relief from their perpetrators and those who helped to cover up their crimes.

Ms. Balajadia moved the court to dismiss Rupley's lawsuit, claiming it was unconstitutional for the Guam Legislature to remove the civil statute of limitations and apply it retroactively. The court has entertained and rejected similar such motions as the church cases advanced through her court.

"The court rejects Defendant’s argument for the same reasons it has rejected the argument before," the Judge said. "Defendant does not have a vested, constitutional right to assert a statute-of-limitation defense against claims of sexual abuse."

Citing a 1945 U.S. Supreme Court case (Chase Sec. Corp v. Donaldson), the court wrote “statutes of limitation go to matters of remedy, not to destruction of fundamental rights... The Fourteenth Amendment does not make an act of state legislation void merely because it has some retrospective cannot be said that lifting the bar of a statute of limitations so as to restore a remedy lost through mere lapse of time is per se an offense against the Fourteenth Amendment."

Mr. Balajadia now will stand trial.

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