PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Vietnamese Christian Community Church in Southeast Portland faces a $6 million lawsuit filed by two men who say that the church’s former youth leader and choir teacher David Nguyen Dinh Duong sexually abused them as kids during the 1990s. The suit was filed months after Duong pleaded guilty to molesting the youngest of the two victims when they were 6 years old.
The abuse began in the early 90s when Duong allegedly began “grooming” the older of the two victims, referred to as “A.A” in court documents. According to the lawsuit, the sexual abuse continued into the late 90s, when Duong molested the second victim, identified as “B.B.”
During this time, Duong befriended the boys’ families and became a “trustworthy mentor, counselor, and church authority figure,” the suit states.
“As such, Duong was invited into Plaintiffs A.A. and B.B.’s homes to spend time with their families and time along with Plaintiffs A.A. and B.B.,” the lawsuit said. “As a result, Plaintiffs A.A. and B.B. were conditioned to trust Duong, to comply with his directions, and to respect him as a person of authority in spiritual, moral, and ethical matters. This course of conduct is referred to in this complaint as ‘grooming.’”
A.A. and B.B., who now in their 30s, are seeking $3 million each from the Vietnamese Christian Community Church for their alleged suffering, which includes past and future emotional injury, pain, anxiety, trust issues, nightmares, flashbacks, extreme stress and physical injuries associated with psychological issues.
The Vietnamese Christian Community Church was allegedly “aware of warning signs” that Duong was also “grooming and sexually abusing” other children while he served as the church youth leader, the lawsuit states.
On July 14, 2023, Duong pleaded guilty in Washington County Circuit Court to one count of sexual abuse committed against B.B. The 58-year-old was sentenced to more than six years in prison for his crimes.
Local attorney Barb Long told KOIN 6 News that Duong could not be convicted of the crimes allegedly committed against A.A. because the statute of limitations had expired. Oregon statute of limitation laws state that sex abuse crimes must be prosecuted within 12 years of the date they occurred, or, if the victims were younger than 18 at the time of the crime, before their 30th birthday.
“My clients and their families trusted Duong because of his stature within VCC,” Long said. “He betrayed that trust by grooming and sexually abusing them. By bringing this lawsuit, my clients seek to hold VCC accountable and to increase the safety of children who are in the church and other organizations today.”
The Vietnamese Christian Community Church, which now operates under the Oregon Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God as the Vietnamese Assembly of God Church, was formally served court papers on Oct. 3. KOIN 6 News made multiple attempts via phone and email over the course of months to contact the church’s registered agent Stephen Nghiem. However, Nghiem could not be reached for comment.
KOIN 6 also contacted the Oregon Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God about the case via phone and email multiple times but did not receive a response.
On Nov. 6, the plaintiffs filed a notice of intent to apply for a default ruling in their favor if the church fails to respond to the lawsuit by Nov. 17.
The Vietnamese Christian Community Church’s attorney Lori DeDobbelaere told KOIN 6 News that it is her policy not to comment on pending litigation.