New Sexual Abuse Claims Against Two Oakland Diocese Priests

NBC Bay Area

January 28, 2021

By Candice Nguyen, Michael Bott and Mark Villarreal

Two priests from the Oakland Diocese have been accused of sexually abusing a former seminarian. The man came forward with new allegations – some dating back to his childhood – after previously accusing another priest of raping him several years ago.

New sexual abuse allegations within the Oakland Diocese are publicly coming to light for the first time after being included in a lawsuit against the Diocese that settled late last year for $3.5 million, without any admission of liability.

The accusations come from a former seminarian, 28, who had previously alleged in 2019 that he was raped by Livermore priest Fr. Michael Van Dinh three years ago. He does not wish to be identified, so NBC Bay Area is calling him John Doe.

A police report obtained by NBC Bay Area shows Livermore police found a meth pipe and sex toys in the priest’s living quarters while investigating the alleged assault. Detectives recommended two felony charges, including sodomy by force, but the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office said there wasn’t enough evidence to prove the encounter wasn’t consensual.

Dinh remains on leave from the Diocese. Click here for NBC Bay Area’s 2019 story concerning Fr. Van Dinh.

After going through therapy for the alleged assault at the hands of Fr. Van Dinh, Doe’s attorney said he later disclosed being sexually abused by two other priests within the Diocese: Fr. Luis Lopez and Fr. Ricardo Chavez, who is now retired. Lopez is currently assigned to Fremont’s Corpus Christi Church, according to its website.

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