March 08, 2006

Not in Good Standing

Houston Press

By Craig Malisow
Article Published Mar 9, 2006

Thirteen years after he was accused of molesting two little girls, Houston priest Joseph Tu Ngoc Nguyen has been suspended by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. The suspension comes seven months after then-archbishop Joseph Fiorenza told parishioners at Holy Rosary Church that the Dominican Order had investigated and cleared Father Tu. The priest was in no way attracted to little girls, Fiorenza wrote in a letter read to the families filling the pews. They had no reason to worry. He left out the part about Tu's treatment at a rehab center in New Mexico, where he was diagnosed with a "very underdeveloped psycho-sexual personality."

According to a spokeswoman, Fiorenza got the information about the investigation from the Diocese of Fort Worth, where the alleged abuse occurred. That diocese claimed to get its information on Tu's good standing straight from the Dominican Order of New Orleans. The order's attorney even indicated that an investigation was successfully completed.

The only problem was, no one told the two little girls there was an investigation.

After years of silence, a Dallas attorney last week filed affidavits from the original accusers, who claim Tu molested them in 1975, when they were seven and eight. They claim that no one from the Dominican Order contacted them about an investigation. They also say they were shocked to learn that Tu was still in the ministry as of 2006.

They aren't the only ones: Four other women have signed affidavits in the case, accusing Tu of molesting them in the 1970s and 1980s, when he was at St. Matthews Parish in Arlington. Meanwhile, everyone affiliated with the dioceses and the Dominican Order is referring to an investigation that, 31 years after the accusations surfaced, doesn't seem to have happened.

Posted by kshaw at March 8, 2006 02:22 PM