Ex-Catholic school student files lawsuit alleging abuse by Guam priest

HAGATNA, Guam — A former Catholic school student alleged on Wednesday that a former priest sexually abused him around 1988, marking the 29th clergy sex abuse lawsuit on Guam.

In his lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of Guam Wednesday, Timothy Ryan Shiroma said he was a student at Cathedral Grade School, a Catholic school established by the Sisters of Mercy, located in a building adjacent to the cathedral. Raymond Cepeda was a priest at the cathedral at the time, the lawsuit says.

Shiroma, now living in Maite, said in the lawsuit he was about 9 years old when Cepeda sexually abused him in an office at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica in Hagåtña.

At 37 years old, Shiroma is the youngest person thus far to file a sexual abuse lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Agana, its priests and other unnamed defendants. He's also the first who's not a former altar boy or a former Boy Scout.

The alleged abuse occurred around 1988, the most recent date of alleged clergy sexual abuse among the 29 lawsuits.

The lawsuit, filed through Attorney David Lujan, gave a graphic detail of the alleged abuse.

“Once Timothy got off the phone, Cepeda threw Timothy to the floor and got on top of him. Cepeda had Timothy pinned on the ground, belly down. Timothy began to cry. Cepeda unzipped Timothy’s backpack and shoved Timothy’s head inside,” the lawsuit says, adding Cepeda went on to sexually abuse the student.

For the remainder of Shiroma’s years at the Cathedral School, he rode the bus home and never stayed back after school again, the lawsuit states.

Shiroma’s lawsuit is the second to accuse Cepeda of sexual abuse.

In 2010, the archdiocese reported Cepeda had been removed as a priest after it investigated serious allegations of sexual abuse, according to Pacific Daily News files. At the time, the archdiocese said Cepeda also had been reported to civil authorities.

The lawsuit states the archdiocese and others knew Cepeda sexually abused and molested Shiroma and other minor children for years and, rather than reporting it to law enforcement, assisted Cepeda to keep his misconduct hidden and secret.

Shiroma is seeking a minimum of $5 million in damages, bringing to at least $130 million the archdiocese faces from lawsuits. The total doesn't include unspecified damages by three other plaintiffs who filed lawsuits in local court.

© Pacific Daily News (Guam)


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