Parish Predators

Despite the bishopís remarks to the contrary, the Galveston-Houston Roman Catholic Archdiocese had child molesters and let them go. But donít blame just the Church.

Father Donald Stavinoha

On the night of April 30, 1986, a Houston police officer spotted what he thought was an empty church van in Glenbrook Park. But when he traced his flashlight across the windows, he saw a man performing oral sex on a boy.

The man was 66-year-old Reverend Donald Stavinoha, and the boy was 11. Stavinoha ultimately confessed to sexually abusing the boy since he was nine. He pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault. He was sentenced to ten years and released after 14 months.

In 1993, the Reverend William Morell, Stavinoha's superior at Houston's office of the Oblate Order of Mary Immaculate, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "A brother who is a pedophile is still a brother, isn't he?"

Father Richard Edelin

In 1996, the diocese paid a $5,000 settlement to a woman who claimed she was repeatedly groped by Edelin in 1982. She was 17 at the time. Fiorenza issued a letter of apology but stated that the allegations could not be verified. After the settlement agreement, Edelin ceased working as a priest, working instead as an "auditor."

In 2003 -- a year after Fiorenza proclaimed that child safety would be the top priority -- the diocese announced Edelin would join a Sugar Land parish as a priest. When the woman publicly complained about the appointment, the diocese rescinded Edelin's appointment.

Edelin is now a priest in Baker, Oregon.

Father Joseph Tu Ngoc Nguyen

Father Tu, as he was known, was transferred to Houston from Fort Worth in 1993. He had been accused of groping and kissing two young sisters and was treated at a clergy rehab center, where he was diagnosed with a "very undeveloped psycho-sexual personality."

Fiorenza in 1993 told parishioners at Holy Rosary Church that the Dominican Order had investigated and cleared Tu. The only problem was, no one ever told the two girls there was an investigation.

So far, six women have accused Tu of groping and kissing them; the youngest victim was about seven at the time, the oldest 22. The allegations date back to 1975.

The allegations surfaced last year when the late Fort Worth Bishop Joseph Delaney released the names of eight priests accused of sexual abuse. The Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram have filed a joint suit to have their personnel records opened.

Earlier this year, Tu's attorney, Allen Pennington, told a Dallas judge that his client's record should not be revealed because his original accusers "never accused [Tu] of sexual abuse...They don't want to be involved in the current case or in the resulting media circus...These ladies do not want their names in the press or in the courtroom."

However, Pennington's crystal ball was a bit murky, because the women did not even know about the litigation until they read a newspaper article; they never told anyone about staying out of the case because they had no idea there even was a case.

In conversations with the Press earlier this year, Archdiocese spokeswoman Annette Gonzales Taylor brushed off the kissing as a cultural misunderstanding -- four years after the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops declared that sexual abuse did not even have to include physical contact.

Tu was suspended from the priesthood in March.

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