A Guam resident filed a sexual abuse lawsuit against bishop emeritus Tomas A. Camacho yesterday regarding allegations that date back several decades ago, making Camacho the first clergy member from the CNMI to be embroiled in a controversy that has hounded the Roman Catholic Church.
Last year, Guam’s Catholic community was rocked by several allegations of similar sexual abuse by then archbishop Anthony S. Apuron. Guam and the CNMI are both predominantly Catholic and tight-knit communities.
Most Rev. Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai, then serving as the Archdiocese of Agana’s apostolic administrator, urged Pope Francis to remove Apuron from his post because of the allegations.
Most. Rev. Archbishop Michael J. Byrnes was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of the archdiocese on Oct. 31, 2016.
Retired priest Rev. Fr. Louis Brouillard and several John Does were included in the lawsuit filed by Melvin Duenas in the U.S. District Court of Guam.
Child sexual abuse, negligence, negligent supervision, negligent hiring and retention, and breach of fiduciary duty/confidential relationship are the verified complaints listed by Duenas in the lawsuit.
Duenas allegedly claims that the sexual abuse started when he was around 10 years while serving as the chief altar boy at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Inarajan. He would sleep at the rectory’s guest room after Camacho obtained permission from his father.
Duenas stated in the complaint that Camacho used the excuse that it would be convenient for him to perform his duties if he sleeps at the guest room since the chief altar boy is a demanding job. He would serve every Mass and on special occasions like weddings, funerals, and baptisms.
His other duties included preparing for Mass, ringing the church bell three times a day, refilling the Mass wine, setting up the chalice, preparing the incense, feeding the priests, washing the vehicles, and cleaning the church, kitchen, rectory, and priests’ quarters.
He said that the alleged sexual abuse took place while he was living at the Inarajan rectory, between the ages of 10 to 13 from 1971 to 1974.
Duenas, in his affidavit, said Camacho repeatedly sexually molested and raped him. He said the then-priest would invite him to his bedroom and lock it while forcing the altar boy to undress. He would then stand naked in front of Camacho and he would be free to return to his room after the alleged sexual act. This allegedly happened on an almost nightly basis.
Duenas also claims that Camacho raped him several times where he could not free himself despite resisting the priest’s sexual advances.
Aside from being Inarajan Parish’s chief altar boy, Duenas was also required to occasionally serve during Masses at the San Isidro Catholic Church of Malojloj during special events held by the Sisters of Mercy.
Brouillard was then a priest at Malojloj Parish and Duenas claims that the former was allegedly completely naked under his vestments while saying Mass. Brouillard would also allegedly sexually abuse and molest Duenas in occasions when he was serving as an altar boy.
Duenas was also a member of the Boy Scouts of America’s Guam chapter where Brouillard was the scoutmaster. They would practice marching at the Malojloj Parish’ parking lot and after the drills they would occasionally go to the nearby Carmelite Monastery Convent where Brouillard was residing at that time.
Brouillard would allegedly routinely display pornography in his and the other boys’ presence. His sexual abuse and molestation of Duenas allegedly happened numerous times.
Duenas, in order to escape the harrowing ordeal, ran away from the Inarajan Parish’s rectory sometime between 1974 to 1975. He never saw Camacho or Brouillard after that, with the former returning to Saipan and was consecrated bishop on Jan. 13, 1985, two months after the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa was established.
Duenas claimed that he tried reaching out to Camacho when he was around 45 or 46 years old or about 2006 or 2007 while he was on Saipan in order to seek closure. He wrote notes, left his telephone numbers, and even emailed the diocese but received no response until this time.
Brouillard, on the other hand, admitted sexually abusing boys in a written statement on Oct. 3, 2016.