By Eric Rosario
(Hagatna, Guam) Information from a Guam Police officer is casting a shadow on a child rape case, and causing the victim to question whether Guam Police Department and the Republican Party of Guam are covering up the case.
On May 15, 2019, Kandit News called then-police officer Albert "AJ" Balajadia asking him to answer to allegations made by Florencio "Larry" Rupley that in the 1980s, when Balajadia was a rookie cop, he raped Rupley, who was a child.
May 15, 2019 Kandit interview with AJ Balajadia:
KANDIT: "Hi Officer Balajadia. Larry Rupley has told our news group about a rape that occurred when he was between the ages of eight and 14 by you. Do you have anything to say about that?"
AJ BALAJADIA: "I'm not aware of that."
KANDIT: "You're not aware of any meeting that you had with Larry Rupley when you were a candidate for senator in which he confronted you about this issue in order to get some closure, and you said to him, 'I don't recall that. If I did that to you..."
He hung up the phone in the middle of the interview.
The meeting Mr. Rupley referred to in his interview with Kandit occurred on August 17, 2016, after he returned to Guam from years of living abroad and saw Mr. Balajadia's senatorial campaign signs while driving. He wanted to meet with Republican Party of Guam officials to tell them about what Mr. Balajadia had done to him and to drop him from their slate of candidates. He also wanted to meet with Mr. Balajadia to bring some peace and closure to that dark chapter of his life that, to this day, haunts him.
Mr. Rupley called a friend, who had ties to the Calvo administration, and that friend contacted John Mafnas. Mr. Mafnas at the time was a political advisor to the Calvo Tenorio campaign, and would later run the landslide failure marketing effort for the Tenorio Ada campaign in 2018.
"John set up the meeting, and he acted like he was concerned," Mr. Rupley told Kandit. "He said that Governor Eddie Calvo knew about the situation, as did Lt. Governor Ray Tenorio, Sen. Tony Ada, and even the police chief."
The meeting happened, according to Mr. Rupley, at a conference room in an Hagatna office. There were witnesses, according to him and according to at least two of the witnesses. Mr. Rupley said that he confronted Mr. Balajadia about their past and Mr. Balajadia broke down and cried before stating, "I don't recall that. If I did that to you, then I'm sorry." Mr. Rupley asked Mr. Balajadia, "How can you not recall this? How is someone like you even running for public office after what you've done?" Mr. Balajadia again broke down, according to Mr. Rupley, sobbing, "Please don't come after my children." Mr. Rupley was dumbfounded by the statement and replied, "Why would I come after your kids?"
Following the interview with Mr. Balajadia on May 15, 2019, Kandit called and interviewed former Sen.Tony Ada, who now is chairman of the Republican Party of Guam and a candidate for senator. We asked Mr. Ada whether he was aware of these allegations and he said it was the first he was hearing of it.
May 15, 2019 interview with Tony Ada:
KANDIT: "Were you aware of a meeting that took place between AJ Balajadia and Larry Rupley that was arranged by John Mafnas in 2016?"
TONY ADA: "No, I was not aware."
Prior to the interview with Mr. Ada, Kandit interviewed Benny Pinaula, who was then-vice chairman of the Republican Party of Guam, asking him whether he was aware of the meeting that took place, or whether Mr. Mafnas discussed these issues with party officials. Mr. Pinaula denied any knowledge of these events.
Even the Guam Police Department denied knowing about the rape allegations and the meeting itself.
May 15, 2019 interview with Sgt. Paul Tapao:
KANDIT: "A meeting took place, that the victim was talking about, when AJ Balajadia was a Republican senatorial candidate, and how the victim confronted AJ about this, and AJ's response was, 'I don't recall that happening, but if it did happen the way you said it happened, then I'm sorry. And so, it's a very telling response, and the only question that I have for you about this is aside from, 'Is the Guam Police Department aware of this,' the only other question I have is, 'Since the statute of limitations for a criminal charge of rape is long gone - has passed a long time ago - is whether an official misconduct complaint can be filed, and where that can be filed?' Would it be at a precinct, or the chief of police office?"
Sgt. PAUL TAPAO: "Ok. So, these are serious allegations that we take seriously - allegations against a police officer. From what you're telling me, this is new to me and new to the department. I don't recall any complaints filed by any other officer or complaints as to Officer Balajadia."
A document from the Guam Police Department tells a different story, though.
Mr. Rupley has been actively trying to get justice for the past four years. He reached out to the Republican Party of Guam for them to stop Mr. Balajadia from becoming a senator. Where party officials allegedly failed, the voters of Guam succeeded unknowingly on Mr. Rupley's behalf.
Since then, he reached out to Guam media. He also has filed criminal and administrative complaints with the Attorney General's Office and with GPD.
In an interview with chief of police Stephen Ignacio in late December 2019, Kandit learned that the internal investigation launched by Mr. Ignacio into Mr. Balajadia had stopped in October, when Mr. Balajadia retired from the police force. In January, we followed up with special assistant to the chief of police (SACOP) Lt. Steve Amaguin about the progress of the criminal investigation. Lt. Amaguin told Kandit the matter was before the attorney general.
Mr. Rupley has been getting the same run around.
"It's not easy for me to be following up with all this because of the time zone difference," Mr. Rupley said. He lives in the continental United States, and has a difficult time getting phone calls returned.
Finally, on June 12, 2020, GPD's Frank Santos replied to Mr. Rupley with an update on the status of cases involving him. Mr. Santos informed Mr. Rupley that his case against Mr. Balajadia - Criminal Case No. 2020-15082, was open and "currently being investigated."
What was news in that email from Mr. Santos was the existence of another criminal case involving Mr. Rupley; this one filed by Mr. Balajadia "for records," on August 17, 2016 - THE SAME DAY RUPLEY AND BALAJADIA MET AT THE HAGATNA CONFERENCE ROOM. Mr. Balajadia claimed in his complaint that Mr. Rupley had terrorized him. And according to GPD's records in this Criminal Case No. 2016-22252, this incident happened at AM Insurance.
That was the location of the August 17, 2016 meeting.
Mr. Rupley never knew about the allegations by Mr. Balajadia. No one had ever contacted him, yet according to GPD records, the case was "CLOSED."
Despite the existence of these records of that meeting, Mr. Tapao on May 15, 2019 told Kandit that neither he nor the Guam Police Department were aware of this incident. We have asked Mr. Tapao for a statement.
Despite Mr. Amaguin's January statement to Kandit that the matter was with the attorney general, GPD records indicate the investigation is "OPEN."
Carlina Charfauros, spokeswoman for the attorney general, confirmed this, telling Kandit News today, "It's with GPD who receives and investigates criminal complaints."
How much did former Gov. Eddie Calvo, former Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio, then-police chief Joseph I. Cruz and the Republican leadership of the island know about this case by August 17, 2016?
Why has the criminal complaint against Mr. Balajadia continued to lag under the new administration at GPD?
"Are they covering it up for one of their own?" Mr. Rupley asked, clearly exasperated. "People knew about this, and so far, nothing is being done."