By Nancy I. Maanao
Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio has lent his help to a man who is trying to bring former police spokesman Albert J. "AJ" Balajadia to justice.
Mr. Balajadia is accused of raping Florencio "Larry" Rupley, Jr., when Mr. Rupley was eight years old, and Balajadia was a rookie cop. The crime allegedly happened in the 1980s and when Balajadia was new to the government of Guam. Because of a Guam law that holds government employees to a higher criminal standard, Mr. Balajadia may be prosecuted for committing a crime while a government employee up to three years after he separates from the government.
Mr. Balajadia was allowed to retire from the Guam Police Department late last year.
"The Balajadia matter is with the AG's Office and under investigation," AGO spokeswoman Carlina Charfauros told Kandit News.
Assistant attorney general David Rivera, in a response to Mr. Rupley's inquiry on his case against Balajadia, said the statute of limitations on a rape charge has expired, but that his office is exploring a charge against Balajadia for committing this crime while he was a government employee.
"There are legal questions that are currently being explored concerning the public servant exception to the statute of limitations," Mr. Rivera, a prosecutor, wrote.
Mr. Rupley first came forward about the rape in 2016, when he found out Balajadia was running for senator as a Republican that year. Rupley approached the Republican Party of Guam, whose officers had assured him his grievances would be redressed. Both former Gov. Eddie Calvo and then-police chief Joseph I. Cruz were made aware of the allegations.
Mr. Rupley also alleges former Sen. Tony Ada, who was the minority leader in the legislature at the time, was made aware of the crimes.
None of the leaders at the time brought the matter through the justice system.
Rupley has since raised his case to the media since filing an official complaint with the Guam Police Department. GPD investigated and forwarded the case to the Attorney General's Office with the recommendation to prosecute its former officer, Balajadia.
Months have passed since the case was forwarded, and the clock is ticking on the statute of limitations to prosecute Balajadia. The former cop and Republican senatorial candidate has since fled Guam.
Enter Lt. Gov. Tenorio.
On October 22, 2020, Mr. Tenorio wrote to Attorney General Leevin Camacho, stating, "We have been informed that Mr. Rupley is a victim of a sexual assault that occurred several years ago and that the matter was referred to your office by the Guam Police Department for possible prosecution. As you are aware, under Guam law Mr. Rupley has certain rights regarding being informed about the status of this pending matter."
Mr. Rupley does not live on Guam, and has struggled trying to push his case through the justice system, While the police department under former police chief Cruz ignored his pleas for help, GPD police chief Stephen Ignacio and his leadership team not only filed and forwarded his case, but developed protocols for Mr. Rupley to be interviewed by distance.
The rape survivor also has reached out a number of leaders since 2016 to correct what he sees as a broken system that does is not friendly to rape victims. Only Mr. Tenorio has taken any action on his behalf.