Catholic Priest Pleads Guilty to Fondling Girl

Associated Press, carried in Amarillo Globe-News
August 8, 1999

Dallas — A Dallas Catholic priest has pleaded guilty to fondling a 12-year-old girl.

Rev. Emeh "Anthony" Nwaogu faces between two and 20 years in prison for assaulting the girl at St. Anthony Catholic Church in South Dallas where he had been priest-in-charge for the past five years.

A sentencing hearing will be set at a later date.

Nwaogu also could be sentenced to deferred-adjudication probation, which would be served in his native Nigeria.

The girls' mother testified that Nwaogu offered his "confession" to her when she confronted him about why her daughter came to her in tears.

"I asked him for the truth," she said, according to a story in The Dallas Morning News. "I didn't tell him anything" about what the girl had said.

"He dropped his head and said he had touched her here," she said, pointing to her chest, "and in her privates and said it was not appropriate."

Before the May incident at the priest's house, the family confided in Nwaogu that the girl was sexually abused before the family adopted her, making the priest's actions even more upsetting for the family.

Prosecutors are seeking the maximum penalty in the case.

"There's no way it could ever be a minimum case," said prosecutor Robbie McClung after the trial ended Friday. "It's in the best interest of that child and every child that he be locked away for as long as possible, and the maximum is 20 years."

Nwaogu's supporters say such a severe penalty is overdoing it. High school teacher Betty White, one of Father Nwaogu's six supporters in court Friday, testified that the priest had been an asset to the parish during his six years in Dallas.

She asked the court to consider probation, saying she believed he could be supervised by the church in Nigeria.

Nwaogu is the ninth priest in the Dallas Catholic Diocese to be accused of child sexual abuse in the 1990s and the second to be arrested. The other one arrested, Rudolph "Rudy" Kos, is serving a life sentence in state prison. The diocese and its insurers paid about $31 million to settle claims that church leaders covered up his abuse of 11 boys.

More than $5 million was paid to settle claims involving other priests.

"We can't put this one in the same category," diocesan spokesman Bronson Havard said after Nwaogu's arrest in early May. "This is almost something that's unpredictable - no signals, no flares up.

"It's not anything we could do anything to prevent," Havard said.


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