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Joseph H. Saunders
| Saunders and Walker

As law enforcement raided the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston last November, law enforcement has raided the headquarters of the Diocese of Dallas.

Citing missing and incomplete records of priests who abused children, the law enforcement officials have conducted a raid on the Dallas chancery.

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, handed over to authorities incomplete 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 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.

“In addition to the allegations against Mr. Paredes, detectives are investigating at least five additional allegations of child abuse against other suspects,” Geron told reporters.

“These investigations stem from additional allegations made after the case against Mr. Paredes became public.”

Geron said police were searching for “any documentation, any data that would tend to further the investigation into these allegations of child abuse.”

In August, the diocese informed parishioners at St. Cecilia of allegations of sexual abuse by Paredes, the former pastor. The alleged criminal offenses occurred more than a decade ago, church officials said.

The raid took the diocese by surprise since church officials have been cooperating with authorities for months, according to Catholic Diocese of Dallas spokeswoman Annette Gonzales Taylor.

The church’s “cooperation” was deemed inadequate and that’s why law enforcement decided to move in and conduct their own investigation.  That’s really what should have happened from the beginning.  No other organization or institution would be allowed to police themselves when it comes to criminal behavior.  Unfortunately, the Catholic Church has been allowed to turn over those whom they consider credible and only reveal the documents they consider relevant.  It’s about time the civil authorities take control of this investigation on a nationwide scale rather than relying on the church for information.  All too often what is handed over is only half-truths and half the number of priest who’ve abused children.

In January, every Catholic diocese in Texas released the names of all priests, deacons and other clergy members accused of sexually abusing children in the past decades.

At least 298 clergy members across the state have faced “credible abuse” allegations going back to the 1940s, according to the lists compiled by the 15 Texas dioceses.

Leading the number of clergy members accused is the Archdiocese of San Antonio — the largest one in the state — with 56 priests and other clergy listed. Next is the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and the dioceses of Dallas, El Paso and Amarillo.

Texas church leaders and the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter agreed to identify those accused in October as part of an effort “to promote healing and a restoration of trust in the Catholic Church.”

Advocates for survivors of sexual abuse consider the self-reported lists unreliable and incomplete. The lists do not detail when accusations were made, where the abuse occurred or what was done after an accusation was made.

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