Priest Is Named in 1970s-80s Abuse Case
Dominican in Midtown Parish Removed during Probe of Claims from Fort Worth

By Richard Vara
Houston Chronicle
March 25, 2006

A priest serving in a Midtown parish was removed from duty by his religious order after an allegation of decades-old sexual abuse surfaced in Tarrant County.

The Rev. Joseph Tu Ngoc Nguyen was removed from Holy Rosary Catholic Church in late February after then-Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza learned of the allegation, said Annette Gonzales Taylor, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

Fiorenza, who retired March 1, contacted Tu's order, the Southern Dominican Friars based in Metairie, La., and that group took action, Taylor said Friday.

Holy Rosary parishioners were informed of Tu's suspension in a letter read at Mass, said Regina Wedig, spokeswoman and general counsel for the Dominican order.

Wedig said Friday that the order would not release a copy of the letter and would have no further comment pending completion of its investigation of the allegations against Tu.

Tu remains in Houston but he is no longer at the church, Wedig said. His license to minister in public was suspended in accordance with U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' policy. That policy requires priests be suspended pending investigation once church officials receive allegations of sexual abuse involving minors.

Nguyen served at Holy Rosary for 12 years "without incident," Taylor said, adding that none of the sexual misconduct allegations was from the Houston-Galveston archdiocese.

The allegation that led to his suspension came in mid-February from a woman who said Tu touched her breasts when she was 13 years old, in the 1970s, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

After he was suspended, another woman alleged that she was fondled in a confessional in the mid-1980s when she was 9 or 10 and Tu worked at St. Matthew's Church in Arlington, the Dallas Morning News reported.

Seven women have filed statements in a Tarrant County District Court accusing the priest of molesting them in the 1970s and 1980s at the Arlington church, the Morning News said. The accusations came in connection with a petition filed by the two newspapers to unseal records of the Diocese of Fort Worth concerning Tu and six other priests.

In June, the diocese publicly disclosed the priests' names as being the only clerics accused of sexual misconduct there since its founding in 1969.

State District Judge Len Wade originally ruled to unseal the records of six of the priests, and recently agreed to open Tu's records after the names of the accusers and other personal information are deleted, according to media reports.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.