Editorial: Governor & cronies disgustingly politicized sexual assault issues


Police commissioner Robert Guerrero, right, carrying Ralph and Diann Torres’s luggage as they disembark from a trip and arrive on the tarmac in Saipan.

There appears to be nothing sacred to Torres administration cronies but their politics and self promotion. No moral compass guides a group that will manufacture claims of illegal sexual misconduct against one of their political enemies, while completely ignoring an actual first-person criminal complaint against one of their own. And we’re not even talking about the criminal charges filed against the governor himself.

The website The Curious Dreamer reported that being unable to call for help in a dream means you feel helpless in your waking life.  Dreaming that you’ve lost your voice, can’t talk, or scream means that you feel that you don’t have control over your life, you feel ignored, or you’re afraid to stand up for yourself.  Many victims of sexual assault have experienced this; myself included.

Imagine gathering the courage to speak up and it falls on deaf ears.  It’s a helpless feeling.  To scream at the top of your lungs and not be heard.  It takes a lot of courage to stand in your truth when everyone would rather turn a blind eye about sexual assault.  What’s sad is that a legitimate case of sexual assault reported by the actual victim and documented is being drowned out by the distraction of political propaganda.  And everyone else suffers the repercussions more for it.

Three years ago, CNMI Department of Public Safety Commissioner Robert Guerrero was accused of sexually assaulting an employee at DPS.  The woman filed a 26-page report of everything that happened to her.  This victim was not only (allegedly) taken advantage of because of the power of her perpetrator but was ousted and shamed for speaking her truth.  

Testimony opposing Robert Guerrero’s confirmation as commissioner of public safety surfaced, showing the CNMI Senate knew about allegations of sexual misconduct against him and still confirmed the man.

“Mr. Guerrero has used his capacity as Commissioner to engage with women taking advantage of them by disrespecting their bodies as in fondling them, and in fact- those women are afraid to report the matter due to the fact that they fear Mr. Guerrero knowingly (sic) that he has connections to certain individuals that handles the cases,” the testimony, submitted anonymously to the Senate and dated February 26, 2019 reads. The testimony is contained in the official confirmation packet in the Senate’s archives.

The testimony came only a few weeks after the former DPS employee filed her criminal complaint against Mr. Guerrero for sexually assaulting her in his office, then intimidating her from reporting the crimes. The woman in the case submitted her criminal complaint to DPS, the Office of the Attorney General, and to the Governor’s Office.

The case has gone nowhere, and it remains unclear whether any investigation ever started into the allegations. Efforts to reach DPS, OAG, and the Governor’s Office about the case have either resulted in refusal to comment, no answer, or officials hanging up the phone.

The statute of limitations to charge Mr. Guerrero with these crimes may be expiring soon, which calls into question the Torres administration’s refusal to hold its top law enforcement officer accountable for a crime ripe for prosecution while it pursues a political witch hunt against Ed Propst. Claims that Mr. Propst committed sexual misconduct more than 20 years ago were made by a third party, Irene Holl, in 2020 – the summer before the election. Torres administration officials continue calling for Propst’s prosecution, even though there has never been a criminal complaint filed against him. Not only has Mr. Propst denied having committed any crimes, but the statute of limitations for those alleged crimes ended about two decades ago, sending any such investigation outside the parameters of the law long ago.

On one hand you have a legitimate complaint from a victim waiting for justice to be served and on the other is a 20-year old allegation with no supporting facts or faces to match.  The governor, his former senior advisor, Republican Party officials, and many in his administration incessantly called for Propst to be investigated and arrested, despite their knowledge of the statute of limitations and the lack of first-party complainant. And while it normally is commendable for government officials to encourage the reporting of sexual assault, it is obvious as the sky is blue that these efforts against Propst were more concerned with injuring him politically and personally than with any claim of criminal justice. 

Gov. Torres and his former spokesman repeatedly called for Propst’s prosecution. For Guerrero? Silence.

Torres appointee Kimberlyn King-Hynds has been vocal in her assessment Propst should be investigated and prosecuted. For Guerrero? Silence.

Vanquished politician Grace Sablan Vaiague joined Torres in claiming Propst faced criminal charges. Why isn’t she so adamant about the 26-page criminal complaint against Guerrero? Where are they now that Torres actually is the one facing criminal charges? Crawled up in a corner of SilenceVille. 

Politics can be so very ugly. There is nothing wrong with calling out evidence-based misconduct, or screaming about perceived deficiencies in a candidate’s record. But, to fabricate allegations without basis, lubricate the system against your political enemy, drag his family through the mud, then ignore the same type of conduct an actual victim files a criminal complaint about is hypocritical and disgusting. 

It is apparent that the Torres administration picks and chooses and even creates the controversy that would benefit their party.  There is no room for politics in the already-broken hearts and beings of sexual assault survivors. We must be free to speak our truth without the noise of liars drowning out our voices.

 

Troy Torres contributed to this editorial.


1 Comments

  • Thank you Danielle for saying what was in my head.
    Say it louder for those in the back next to Kim.

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