Part two of a series (Read part one here)
Abraham Isaac was 11 when he says the family doctor sexually abused him. It happened during sleepovers at the doctor’s apartment, and it happened a lot, he says. At night after playing games, the doctor would give the boys “vitamin pills” and tell them to stuff cotton balls in their ears to keep the cockroaches out. In the morning, they wouldn’t remember how they fell asleep, just that their “private parts were sore.”
“There were a lot of things that happened that [the doctor] did. It went on for years,” Isaac recalls. “But when I realized, when I became older, I picked the wrong crowd in life and I started doing bad things. And that’s when I bumped into these so-called vitamins, and I was like, ‘Wait, these are the same pills the doctor gave me when I was little.’”
They weren’t vitamins – they were tranquilizers. And the doctor wasn’t a licensed physician.
German Enrique Moreno Rojas, 50, was arrested May 11, 2005 on charges of molesting several boys from a mostly Hispanic neighborhood in Houston, Texas. Moreno fled the United States before his case went to trial. After his arrest, U.S. authorities discovered the doctor was already a convicted pedophile in Costa Rica.
Moreno is living in Costa Rica again. Similar charges from a 1995 guilty verdict in a Costa Rican court have since expired.
Until last week, he was working as a doctor. Moreno operated a medical clinic, this time legally, in the southern Nicoya Peninsula beach town of Playa Carmen (TT, Aug. 12). He closed the clinic when members of the community uncovered his history last week.
Moreno escaped punishment in Costa Rica by leaving the country before sentencing in 1996 and waiting for the statute of limitations to expire. In one of the largest U.S. cities, Moreno started up another medical facility. New child molester accusations followed.
The Tico Times spoke with Texas authorities and two of Moreno’s accusers this week. New disclosures about Moreno’s past paint the doctor as a manipulative man that used both his position as an authority figure and his Latin American roots to exploit poor, immigrant families.
Moreno ran a medical clinic in Houston, Texas for years. However, he was never licensed to practice medicine in the state, according to a spokeswoman from the Texas Medical Board.
Isaac, two of his brothers and a cousin, along with other neighborhood boys, were among the many alleged victims who prompted Houston police to arrest and charge Moreno in May 2005 on six counts of indecency with a child, two counts of sexual assault of a child and one count of aggravated sexual assault of a child.
“When we were spending the night at his house, he would tell us about when he was a little kid, he used to play with his friend masturbating to see who could last longer. He would say, ‘Wanna play?’” Isaac said. “He would have ‘poder Cristiano’ [Christian power] books, and we’d go to the closet and he’d have stacks of guy porn.’”
Moreno met the boys at his local church, where he sang and directed the choir. According to Isaac, now 26, six other boys were allegedly abused during the same period. Isaac says he’s convinced there were more. After Moreno was arrested, the Harris County Public Health Department in Houston notified parents of 46 children who Moreno treated at the Dynamic Health Care clinic, according to Craig Malisow, who wrote about the case in the Houston Press.
Another of Moreno’s alleged victims in the U.S., who asked that his name be withheld, sang in the church choir when he was in eighth grade. Moreno invited the young teenager over to his apartment and offered him part-time work.
“My parents were immigrants, so anytime anybody came to the church that needed help, [my parents] would offer their friendship just to help people out; especially people who were here by themselves, [because] that’s how we were once. So they befriended him and he became friends of the family,” says the source, who is now 27.
“I was the oldest [of the alleged victims]. I was ashamed, I couldn’t speak,” he said. “I’d be so embarrassed as if it was my fault.”
The Isaac family immigrated to the U.S. from Monterrey, Mexico in 1992. They settled in Houston, where Isaac’s mom cared for the kids at home and occasionally cleaned houses to help make ends meet. Isaac’s dad worked in a bakery and later as a heavy machinery mechanic. They didn’t know about the abuse allegations until the boys were adults. But they did eventually have a falling out with Moreno.
With Moreno’s income as a doctor, he often paid for members of his family in Costa Rica to visit. Sometimes they stayed in the Isaac family’s apartment, Isaac says. They held Sunday barbecues in the park together. The Costa Rican relatives never told Isaac’s parents about Moreno’s past.
“They were supposed to be part of our family,” Isaac says. “They knew why he had fled Costa Rica, and they knew my mom let us spend the night with him at the apartment.”
Contacted by The Tico Times this week, two members of Moreno’s family declined comment. Last week, Moreno refused to speak with Tico Times reporters.
Moreno lived for nearly a decade in Houston until he was arrested. He drove a new BMW and a Mitsubishi Montero SUV, a source said. In his apartment, he had a big-screen TV, the latest video games and a pool table.
In 2003, the Texas Medicaid and Healthcare Partnership approved Dynamic Health Care as a Medicaid provider, the Houston Press reported in 2006. Moreno, who worked without a medical license, found a cash cow in Medicaid. He ran summer mobile clinics in surrounding Houston areas, making visits and charging Medicaid, according to one of Moreno’s alleged victims. That source says he accompanied Moreno on some of the house calls. Just 14 at the time, he says Moreno paid him about $30 to help distribute medical supplies.
At church and around parents, Moreno was outgoing, jovial and warm. But he also has an explosive temper, according to several people who know him.
“He’d portray himself as a nice guy, and he had a dark side as well, not only [with] what he was doing, but [also] the way he treated people when he was mad,” the source says.
An adult with a family of his own, Isaac says he’s no longer afraid to speak out about his experience with the doctor: “You can use my name. I’m pretty sure German [Moreno] will read [the story], so I’d like him to know who I am. My name is Abraham Isaac.”