Diocesan Priest Placed on Leave
Catholic Herald [Virginia]
May 11, 2006
Father Tran Dinh Nhi, 61, parochial vicar at St. Ambrose Church in Annandale since 2005, has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation of allegations that he engaged in inappropriate conduct with two minor girls between 1975 and 1980, when they were between the ages of 13 and 17. After a preliminary review of the allegations on Monday evening, the Arlington Diocesan Review Board advised Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde that the allegations had an initial appearance of credibility. Father Nhi has denied any wrongdoing.
One allegation was made by a woman who contacted the diocese after attending a diocesan-sponsored program on recognizing and reporting child abuse. She met with diocesan child protection staff and the diocese offered her assistance. In accordance with its child protection policy, the diocese reported her allegations to the civil authorities and placed Father Nhi on leave while her allegations are investigated.
In an interview with the first woman, the diocese learned the name of a possible second victim. The diocese immediately contacted that woman, notified civil authorities of her allegations and convened the Diocesan Review Board for an initial review of all allegations. The majority lay-person Review Board serves in an advisory capacity to the bishop to review allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clerics.
"We take any allegation of misconduct seriously," Bishop Loverde said. "As a family of faith, we have an absolute responsibility to provide for the safety and welfare of our children and young people."
The diocese has had a written Child Protection Policy since 1991. This policy was updated in 2003. Under diocesan policy, any priest with a substantiated allegation of abuse or misconduct with a minor is permanently removed from ministry. In addition, those accused are encouraged to seek a psychological evaluation.
Father Nhi, a native of Vietnam, was born in 1944. Ordained a priest in 1971, he came to the United States in 1975. He has served as parochial vicar, St. Lawrence, Alexandria, 1975-77; parochial vicar, St. Rita, Alexandria, 1977-78; parochial vicar, St. Charles Borromeo, Arlington, 1978-80; pastor, Blessed Vietnamese Martyrs, Falls Church and Arlington, 1980-88; parochial vicar, St. Philip, Falls Church, 1988-93; parochial vicar, St. Luke, McLean, 1993-96; parochial vicar, Queen of Apostles, Alexandria, 1996-2000; parochial vicar, Holy Family, Dale City, 2000-2005; parochial vicar, St. Ambrose, Annandale, 2005-present.
The diocesan Child Protection Policy is online at www.arlingtondiocese.org, under Child Protection and Safety. The diocese encourages anyone who knows of any misconduct or abuse on the part of any cleric or employee of the diocese to notify both civil authorities and the diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator, Patricia Mudd, at 703/841-2530.
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