Police raided the Catholic Diocese of Dallas headquarters searching for evidence after church officials “thwarted” the investigations into alleged child sexual abuse by priests, according to The Associated Press.
Authorities also searched a storage facility and the church offices at St. Cecilia Catholic Church, Dallas Police Maj. Max Geron told reporters.
“We believe at this point that the execution of the search warrants was wholly appropriate for the furtherance of the investigation at this point,” Geron said during a news conference Wednesday.
Authorities said that the diocese failed to provide complete information regarding the suspects and in some cases even destroyed evidence.
The locations were believed to contain “implements or instruments used in the commission of a crime, or items constituting evidence of a criminal offense or constituting evidence tending to show a particular person committed a criminal offense,” according to a search warrant affidavit.
What are the details?
Edmundo Paredes, 70, appears to be at the center of the investigation, which began in August.
The warrant came after three victims told investigators that the longtime St. Cecilia pastor molested them as teenagers more than a decade ago. Paredes went missing after police issued an arrest warrant and is believed to be in the Philippines.
During the investigation, police said more victims came forward with credible allegations against other members of the clergy.
“In addition to the allegations against Mr. Paredes, detectives are investigating at least 5 additional allegations of child abuse against other suspects. These investigations stem from additional allegations made after the case against Mr. Paredes became public,” Dallas police wrote in a statement.
Four other priests — Richard Thomas Brown, Alejandro Buitrago, William Joseph Hughes Jr., and Jeremy Myers — were named in the search warrant affidavits, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Paredes is suspended from the diocese; the other four are suspended, on leave, retired or removed from the ministry, the AP reported.
Each of the suspects was included in the diocese’s list of credibly accused priests, which it released in January.
What did the diocese say?
On Wednesday, Dallas Bishop Edward J. Burns told reporters that the diocese has cooperated with the police investigation.
He said that personnel files “for all the priests named in the warrant” were turned over to authorities.
“I stand confident that as the bishop of the Diocese of Dallas that we are doing this right,” Burns said during a news conference, the AP reported. “We’re doing everything possible to create a safe environment.”