Allegations of sexual misconduct made against former Vancouver priest

Allegations of sexual misconduct made against former Vancouver priest
Catholic priest in Calgary accused of sexual misconduct
A Catholic priest in Calgary has been accused of sexual misconduct stemming from his time in Vancouver.

Father Peter Hung Cong Tran served as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi church in downtown Calgary from 2016 until his recent dismissal. He was previously stationed as an associate pastor of the St. Vincent Liem Parish in Calgary from 2003 to 2007 and in the Ascension Parish in Calgary from 1996 to 1998.

“He asked one of the victims to sit on his lap,” alleged Joseph Thoai Le, chancellor reverend of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver. “Because someone was sitting on your lap, maybe there was some holding or touching involved. That was the nature of the allegation on the part of the victim. She said it involved some kissing, too.”

Tran also served as pastor of Edmonton's Queen of Martyrs Parish from 2007 to 2016 and associate pastor at St. Joseph's Parish in Vancouver from 1998 to 2003. 

“According to the victim she was a minor at that moment. But according to the priest maybe she was already 19 years old,” said Le. “So we are not able to find out yet whether the date was correct or not. This happened many years ago, so the recollection was a little bit vague.”

Details on the allegations are not known at this time, but the Calgary diocese says there are allegations of misconduct toward a minor and an adult. 

Father Peter Hung Cong Tran has been working in Alberta since 2003, and has been suspended from his post by Bishop William McGrattan of Calgary while a church investigation is conducted. His name was made public by Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith at a news conference on Wednesday.

"This has come to us from Vancouver, where the alleged abuse took place; however, the priest was working in Calgary," said Father Tim Boyle, the delegate to Calgary's Bishop William McGrattan.

“They even advocated for the man not to be punished further. Because of the closeness of the Vietnamese (community), maybe that is what they think. They don’t want the man to be punished further, other than being removed from his post.”

"We were trying to be forthright and transparent to say these allegations were substantial and credible, but there's still an investigation going on and we need to respect the victims who come forward, but also the due process is there so we don't judge someone prematurely to be guilty," he said. 

“The second one actually didn’t come forward,” said Le. “I heard about her from the first one, and I contacted the second one and asked whether the allegation was true or not, and she told me it happened.”

The revelation came as the Calgary diocese announced its commitment to a recent Canadian Bishops report on abuse in the midst of a global sexual abuse scandal that has shaken the Catholic Church.

"I want to state categorically that I am committed to making sure that every child and every vulnerable adult is safe in our diocese," said McGrattan.

“The complaint came through another priest,” he said. “The priest called me immediately, and we investigated. We found that it was credible, and we contacted the Dominican.”

The bishop said the alleged victim has not contacted police, and neither the Calgary police nor the Vancouver police said they were investigating at this time. 

“The victim is now an adult,” Le said. “She doesn’t want to pursue it. She had been advised of the right to go to the police, but she refused. Both of them (refused).”

Boyle said there has been one conviction of a priest in Calgary and that the diocese is dealing with three historic cases, all involving priests who have since died.

St. Joseph is at 1612 East 18th in the Cedar Cottage neighbourhood. It has about 900 families, and caters to two communities, one English-speaking, one Vietnamese.

He said the church is eager to talk to anyone with information about inappropriate conduct on the part of Tran.

The allegations come after a statement in August by Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller calling on anyone who knows of abuse to contact the church or police.

"Recently, we did extend an invitation to the parishes where he was serving to ask for anyone who had any encounters with him that were inappropriate or boundary violations, anything like that, to come forward," he said. 

Tran was at St. Joseph from 1998 to 2003. The second allegation came from a woman who said “he was holding onto her hand, and kissed her hand.”

"Should anyone come forward, we have a very robust procedure of investigation and reporting."

The allegations were recently made by two women in Vancouver, one of whom may have been a minor when the incidents are alleged to have occurred.

Anyone with information regarding sexual misconduct on the part of Tran is urged to contact either the police, the chair of the sexual abuse and misconduct committee in Calgary at 1-833-547-8360, or Boyle at 403-330-5923.

Le said “the statement went out to try and find out whether there were more victims,” but no one else has come forward to date.

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A Catholic priest who has worked in both Edmonton and Calgary has been removed from his duties in the wake of sexual misconduct claims against him by two individuals in Vancouver.

He became the pastor at Calgarys St. Francis of Assisi Parish in 2016, where he remained until recently. Hes since been suspended from his duties while the church investigates.

The allegations against Father Peter Hung Cong Tran stem from his time as associate pastor at St. Joseph Parish in Vancouver between 1998 and 2003, Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith said Wednesday at a news conference.

Speaking at a news conference Wednesday, the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton said it had been informed of the allegations by the Archdiocese of Vancouver.

Tran has not been charged with any crime and the allegations against him have not been proven in court.

“He asked one of the victims to sit on his lap,” said Chancellor Reverend Joseph Thoai Le of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver on Wednesday. “Because someone was sitting on your lap, maybe there was some holding or touching involved. That was the nature of the allegation on the part of the victim. She said it involved some kissing too.”

The second allegation came from a woman who said “he was holding onto her hand, and kissed her hand.”

A document titled "Protecting Minors from Sexual Abuse" outlines a new process to help clergy be more proactive.  

“The second one actually didn’t come forward,” said Le. “I heard about her from the first one, and I contacted the second one and asked whether the allegation was true or not, and she told me it happened.”

A man who spent five years as an associate pastor of a local Roman Catholic church has been named in a sexual misconduct case.

“According to the victim she was a minor at that moment, but according to the priest maybe she was already 19 years old,” said Le. “So we are not able to find out yet whether the date was correct or not. This happened many years ago, so the recollection was a little bit vague.”

In spite of the allegations, Le said the police have not been contacted, so no charges have been filed.

The RCMP is set to impose a rule that would bar its officers from using cannabis within 28 days of a shift.

“The victim is now an adult,” said Le. “She doesn’t want to pursue it. She had been advised of the right to go to the police, but she refused. Both of them (refused).”

“They even advocated for the man not to be punished further. Because of the closeness of the Vietnamese (community), maybe that is what they think. They don’t want the man to be punished further, other than being removed from his post.”

The allegations come in the wake of a statement in August by Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller calling on anyone who knows of abuse to contact the church or law enforcement.

Tran is not to be confused with another Father Peter Tran, who is chancellor of Alberta’s Catholic Diocese of St. Paul, Smith said.

According to the Edmonton Archdiocese, the Tran facing allegations served as an associate pastor at Calgary’s Ascension Parish between 1996 and 1998 before moving to Vancouver from 1998 to 2003.

He returned to Calgary as associate pastor at St. Vincent Liem Parish between 2003 and 2007. He worked as pastor at Queen of Martyrs Parish in Edmonton between 2007 to 2016. He has been the pastor at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Calgary since 2016.

He is a priest of the Vietnamese Dominican Vicariate of St. Vincent Liem, a religious order, Smith said.

Tran has been withdrawn from the Calgary parish and prohibited from “exercising any priestly ministry in the Diocese of Calgary” by Calgary Bishop William McGrattan.