Livermore Priest Accused Of Sexual Assault Had Prior Accusations


April 16, 2019

A Catholic priest accused of sexual assault in the East Bay also has some serious allegations from his past.

A young former seminarian who does not want to be identified says he was sexually assaulted by a priest he considered a mentor, Father Michael Van Dinh. He says it happened inside the rectory of St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Livermore where he says Van Dinh lured him with the promise of helping him find a job.

“When I got there something didn’t feel right,” said the former seminarian. He says Van Dinh led him into a candlelit room and gave him a gift bag. “In those gifts he had oils and underwear thongs and a shirt and chocolate,” said the former seminarian.

Then he says Van Dinh forced him down onto a mattress. “I couldn’t move, I couldn’t react. And he abused me,” he said. Police later recovered the underwear along with a blindfold, a meth pipe and five rubber rings from Van Dinh’s room.

What the former seminarian didn’t know was that Van Dinh was accused of engaging in inappropriate and unwanted sexual contact in the past, even though charges were never filed against him.

“What it shows is the lack of accountability of the church,” said his attorney, Sandra Ribera. She has now filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Oakland and Bishop Michael Barber, alleging they knew about prior allegations against Van Dinh.

“It’s our argument that the diocese had knowledge of these previous allegations and they kept him as a priest in the church and allowed this rape of my client to happen,” said Ribera.

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