In North Texas on Wednesday, Dallas police officers raided several properties of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas. David Tarrant, who’s reporting on the story for The Dallas Morning News, says the raids came about after a year-long investigation.
“The Catholic Church alerted the Dallas police that there were allegations against a former priest named Edmundo Paredes,” Tarrant says. “Around February 2018, the Dallas police began looking into those allegations.”
In the year since that alert, Tarrant says news outlets reported several other cases of clergy abuse in the Catholic Church across the country, which prompted Dallas Bishop Edward Burns to be more transparent about his own diocese’s problems; he publicly revealed the allegations against Paredes. But that admission led to a broader police investigation of the Dallas Diocese, an effort police say the diocese may have tried to “thwart.”
“When the bishop and the diocese released these names of other priests who had been credibly accused, they also asked for those files,” Tarrant says. “What they find is that those files are incomplete, or there are allegations that are missing.”
Dallas police homed in on five priests who had been credibly accused of sexual abuse, but for whom supporting documents about those abuses were missing.
Some say these missing documents are part of the diocese’s so-called secret archives. Tarrant says the diocese asserts it has shared all of its documents related to clergy abuse with police. But he says there’s likely more information about other, unknown cases of abuse that the diocese hasn’t yet shared.
“What the police say is that there are a lot of priests who didn’t make that list of ‘Credibly Accused,’ but [who] were also accused of allegations, and they haven’t had any access to those priests,” Tarrant says.
In other words, he says these alleged cases of abuse would be unknown to the public; some allegedly happened decades ago.
“A lot of these [priests] may not even be alive, or they may be retired or have left the church,” Tarrant says.
Tarrant says he doesn’t know whether the police raid shed any new light on clergy abuse in the Dallas Diocese, but he says police are trying to “get every piece of paper” the diocese has on abuse cases. Tarrant says it’s part of a larger effort, nationwide, to shift the responsibility of investigation into abuse in the Catholic Church from the church itself to law enforcement.
Written by Caroline Covington.