Texas police raided the offices of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas Wednesday on the grounds that Catholic officials withheld information from authorities’ sex abuse investigation.
Police raided the diocesan headquarters, a local church’s offices, and a storage location for the diocese in connection with an investigation into the accused predatory priest and fugitive Edmundo Paredes and several new allegations of sexual abuse against other priests.
Detective David Clark, who wrote the search warrant affidavit for the raids, 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. (RELATED: Pope Francis Issues Church Law Governing Sex Abuse Reporting And Investigation)
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.”
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