YONA, Guam – A former seminary building was packed with hundreds of shoppers Saturday after the Archdiocese of Agana, which owns the property, announced they were selling everything inside and using part of the proceeds to fund potential settlements for Guam clergy sex abuse victims.
Approximately 350 people were camped outside the former Accion Hotel at 5 a.m. Saturday. That was three hours before the sale even began, Leonard Stohr, deacon for Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Yigo, told the Pacific Daily News.
"This is pandemonium, everywhere I look (there's) people," Stohr said.
Shoppers flocked to the hotel for a chance to find bargains on anything from furniture to kitchen appliances to washers and dryers. The church is also looking to sell the hotel itself to raise money for the sex abuse settlements.
"Pretty much anything that's here that's not nailed down, bolted down, or glued down," Stohr added.
The estimated value of the items sold, not including the hotel property, is around $45,000, according to Stohr.
Patrick Wolff of Tumon attended the sale with his family and grandchildren. Wolff said he came to the sale to explore the sprawling waterfront hotel and grounds, but he said he was shocked by the crowds in attendance and by how early shoppers arrived.
"I heard it was incredible, and it is," Wolff told the Pacific Daily News about the property.
Wolff also wanted to support the church's efforts to raise money for victims of sex abuse. Though Wolff said he hoped the church could keep the property, selling it is the "sad reality."
"This has been under the ownership of the church for a long time. We had a chance to use it, but now ... we have to part with it," Wolff said.
Stohr said the sale will help the church sell the property as well because they have to clear all the rooms before a Realtor can evaluate it. The church closed the hotel in December after it was listed as one of 41 non-essential properties that could help the archdiocese gather funds to settle lawsuits. It was being used by the church as a seminary at the time.
Raising money for clergy abuse suits
As of June 5, 184 people said they had been sexually abused by members of Guam's Catholic clergy or other church employees, according to the Pacific Daily News.
Ten have decided not to sue, but mediation is expected to proceed with the rest of the victims in September, a total of 174 cases.
In 2016, the church started a $1 million fund to help abuse victims and announced it would begin placing the 41 non-essential properties up for sale when the church needed more money to settle cases.
Saturday's sale proceeds can also be used for the church's general fund, according to Tony Diaz, the archdiocese's director of communications. However, Diaz said parts of the archdiocese's general fund may eventually be used for the settlement.
Contributing: Haidee V Eugenio, Pacific Daily News