Catholic Church buildings in Dallas raided over claims officials withheld information
Texas police raided the headquarters of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas on Wednesday as part of the widening sex abuse investigation into church officials, according to reports.
Police and church officials confirmed the raids on the HQ, a local church’s offices, and a storage location for the diocese were related to allegations of a cover-up of sexual abuse by predator priests.
In a search warrant affidavit, a police investigator said the diocese had failed to reveal a full picture of sexual abuse allegations against a handful of its priests and, in some instances, failed to hand over to authorities complete records on the accused.
“Despite assurances from the Diocese’s attorneys the priests’ files were complete and accurate, I also detailed specific examples where those files were not complete and accurate.”
Dallas police detective David Clark wrote in the affidavit, adding that efforts to obtain files about sex abuse claimants were “thwarted” by church officials.
Maj. Max Geron of the special investigations division said Wednesday’s raids were related to allegations of child sexual abuse that emerged after police issued an arrest warrant for a priest named Edmundo Paredes, who was previously assigned to St. Cecilia’s Parish in Dallas.
Authorities said they consider Paredes a fugitive.
Police say the media attention on the Paredes case has caused more victims to come forward with allegations against other priests.
“Detectives are investigating at least 5 additional allegations of child abuse against other suspects,” Geron said during a press conference.
Detective Clark accused Dallas church officials of hiding past allegations, delivering incomplete records to police, and waging a public relations campaign rather than a genuine effort to be publicly transparent, according to Dallas News.
According to the Daily Caller, Bishop Edward J. Burns contested Clark’s accusations, saying despite handing over personnel files “for all the priests named in the warrant” and “collaboration with the police, there are some who are not satisfied and want to look for themselves,” according to a video from the diocesan website.
“We know we have given them the files. And so we say, ‘By all means, look,’” he added.
Catholic Diocese of Dallas Bishop Edward J. Burns: “What we’d like to do is indeed demonstrate a transparency and work with them (police) and if there is an area they need more information, of course today, they’re going to have it.” pic.twitter.com/MDEeEF9Esf
— CBSDFW (@CBSDFW) May 15, 2019
Clark alleged in his affidavit, however, that the files the diocese released to authorities did not contain records of multiple accusations known to church authorities.
The diocese, for instance, failed to include several allegations in its file on Richard Thomas Brown that dated between the 1980s and the early 2000s.
Clark reached out to diocesan officials after Barbara Landregan, diocesan director of the Safe Environment Program, notified him about those allegations, and the church took three weeks to deliver 51 additional pages from the report on Brown, which still did not include certain documentation pertaining to a 2004 allegation against Brown.
Tension between police and the diocese began, however, with the investigation of allegations against Paredes.
Dallas Police Major Max Geron said the “investigations stem from additional allegations made after the case against Mr. Paredes became public,” according to Yahoo.
Paredes disappeared after authorities made his accusations public in August 2018. He is believed to have fled to the Philippines.
Clark alleged the records the diocese delivered to police on Paredes excluded information about 2006 meetings between Chancellor Mary Edlund and parishioners concerning Paredes.
He also argued the diocese only contacted police about Paredes because members knew the accusations about him were soon to be made public.
The detective also claimed the diocese refused to hand over additional information concerning additional allegations against other priests, transfers of priests accused of abuse, and the identification of victims.
The diocese asserted the new allegations involved priests already named on its list of priests credibly accused of abuse, which the diocese released after police issued an arrest warrant for Paredes in January.
“The Diocese has been cooperating with the ongoing investigation of these priests even before the list was made public, has given police the personnel files for all of the priests named in the warrant, and has been involved in ongoing discussions with DPD investigators,” a statement from the diocese read.
“To date, the Diocese has not received a subpoena and the Diocese’s involvement has been voluntary.”