‘Ethics complaint vs Propst’s not meant to distract JGO probe’


Grace “Pitu” Sablan Vaiagae, a counselor and advocate for abused women, denies Rep. Edwin K. Propst’s (D-Saipan) allegation that the ethics complaint she filed against him is meant to distract a House of Representatives committee’s investigation into Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ expenditures of public funds and travels.

Her decision to file an ethics complaint against Propst has nothing to do with politics, said Vaiagae in an interview shortly after Torres enacted last Wednesday a bill that would allow civil claims for child sexual abuse to be commenced at any time. Vaiagae said she is a clinician and provides services for women that face trauma and have experienced trauma. Vaiagae said her former clients had brought to her attention concerns on sexual assault that have been brewing since 2016. She said those concerns were brought up again in 2017, in how they can achieve justice since the statute of limitations prevents them from filing complaints.

Propst said last Tuesday that the ethics complaint “is obviously a distraction” from the NMI Republican Party and Torres on the House Judiciary and Governmental Operations Committee’s investigation into the governor’s expenditures of public funds and travels.

Propst said that Torres’ “cronies prefer to distract and destroy and are desperate to change the focus from his horrible record as an inept, incompetent, corrupt governor.”

Vaiagae said she has always been an advocate for the rights of abused women even before she made the decision to run for a House Precinct 3 seat during the Oct. 16 special election. Rep. Corina L. Magofna (D-Saipan) won that election.

Vaiagae said she has always assured her clients that, win or lose in the election, she will still serve the community. “I will still continue being Grace the counselor, Grace the advocate,” she said.

Vaiagae filed her ethics complaint against Propst before House Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez (Ind-Saipan).

She reiterates that her filing of the complaint has nothing to do with political parties and the JGO investigation. “In fact, for me, I need this question answered,” she said, adding that these are women who have experienced trauma and finally have the courage to say, “What are we doing about this? How can we be safe if the allegations were spoken about a leader?”

She said these women asked her how she can assure them that she is an advocate who will provide that security, provide that safe haven for them when she does not have a legislation, not even a law that protects them.

“And all I can tell them is, the day will come when your voices will be heard,” said Vaiagae, adding that the enactment of the new law is that day. She also has plans open an advocacy center.

Rep. Joseph Lee Pan Guerrero (R-Saipan) is the author of the bill. Propst and many other representatives are co-sponsors of the legislation.

In her letter to Villagomez last Tuesday, Sablan cited allegations that Propst had sex with several underaged women approximately 20 years ago when he was still a teacher at Marianas High School and an employee at the Northern Marianas College.

Sablan attached to her letter a copy of an Office of the Attorney General’s investigation and the reported instances of abuse and attempted rape by Propst, who has denied the allegations.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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