Seven women have sued a suspended Houston priest for allegedly molesting them when he worked for the Fort Worth Diocese from the mid-1970s until the early 1990s. Father Joseph Tu was transferred to Holy Rosary Church in midtown Houston in 1993, and he was suspended from the priesthood in 2006, when the accusations were originally made public.
Filed December 12 in Tarrant County by Dallas attorney Tahira Khan Merrit, the lawsuit also names the Fort Worth Diocese, Bishop Kevin Vann, and Tu's order, the Southern Dominican Province of St. Martin De Porres. Tu apparently has not been served with the suit, as no one claims to know his whereabouts.
The suit states that the former bishops of the Diocese, as well as the Dominican Order, "had both the authority and the responsibility to supervise and monitor the activities of Father Tu, or at least to warn parishioners that he was a sexual predator. They did neither....Further, these church entities conspired with Father Tu and reassigned him to Holy Rosary in Houston following reports of his abusive conduct."
In a statement on the lawsuit, the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth said it "expresses deep concern for the women," and Bishop Vann stated that "Any form of sexual abuse is a tragic violation of an individual's God-given right to exercise control over their own bodies and their own behavior. Keeping children, young people and vulnerable adults safe from inappropriate priority of the Catholic Diocese of Forth Worth."