How police felt stonewalled by Dallas Diocese at every turn in sex abuse investigation
By Jennifer Emily And Cassandra Jaramillo
Dallas Morning News
May 15, 2019
| Edmundo Paredes preparing for communion at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in 2008.|
Photo by Juan Garcia
|Detective David Clark, a 20-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department's Child Exploitation Unit , is investigating cases involving Catholic clergy. |
| A Dallas Police vehicle outside St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Dallas on Wednesday. Dallas police officers raided several Dallas Catholic Diocese offices after a detective said church officials have not cooperated with investigations into sexual abuse by its past clergy members. |
Photo by Dave Tarrant
| Dallas police cart out boxes from a raid on the Catholic Diocese of Dallas on Wednesday. Dallas police officers raided several Dallas Catholic Diocese offices after a detective said church officials have not cooperated with investigations into sexual abuse by its past clergy members. |
Photo by Tom Fox
| Since a police investigation began last fall, at least five new allegations of sexual abuse have surfaced within the Dallas Catholic Diocese, according to Major Max Geron, who oversees the special investigations division. |
Photo by Tom Fox
An affidavit Dallas police used to obtain a search warrant Wednesday to raid Dallas Catholic Diocese offices laid out allegations against five priests and suggested the church subverted police efforts to obtain more information.
The affidavit, signed by Detective David Clark, who is working full-time on sex abuse allegations within the Diocese, sought to seize Diocese records because the church hadn’t handed over all the records it had about allegations against the priests.
All five priests are on the Diocese’s list of 31 “credibly accused” priests, which the church released in January. That list included only accusations against priests that the Diocese concluded were credible after a review by former law enforcement officials and the Diocean Review Board.
But the records handed over to police were not complete, Clark wrote.
The accused priests could not be reached for comment and none have been arrested. One priest previously said he should not be included in the credibly accused list.
Here is a look at the allegations, according to the affidavit:
Dallas police began investigating a sexual abuse allegation into Edmundo Paredes, 70, after the Diocese told police a victim came forward in August. A warrant was issued for Paredes’ arrest in January. But the details of the allegations by a former altar server were not public until Wednesday in the affidavit.
Three others had previously accused Paredes of sexual abuse and he was included in the list of 31. But police had said the accusers did not want to pursue criminal charges.
Paredes is believed to have fled, possibly to his native Philippines.
The fourth accuser told the Diocese that Paredes sexually assaulted him in the 1990s, when the alleged victim was an altar server at St. Cecilia’s Church, the affidavit says. The boy also attended the church’s school.
The affidavit says Paredes "groomed him by taking him and other altar servers out to eat between Masses and bought them things” after they met in 1991.
In 1994, when the victim was a juvenile, the sexual assaults began: The victim told police "Paredes touched him on his genitals and Paredes placed his mouth on [his] genitals."
Police interviewed several parishioners, office staff members and priests, all of whom corroborated that Paredes brought "several juveniles" into the rectory during evenings and weekends.
The affidavit also states that "some office staff members met with now-retired Chancellor Mary Edlund, in 2006, regarding their concerns over Paredes having juveniles inside the church offices and inside his residence."
According to the affidavit, Edlund told Clark that Paredes' file should contain information about the 2006 meetings.
"That file did not contain any information regarding the 2006 meeting between parishioners and Chancellor Edlund," Clark wrote in the affidavit.
Instead, Clark wrote that he found only notes that appear to have been written by Edlund, which said, "Outcry from adult, send to CPS. ... won't hear back ... letter better than online entry."
In the affidavit, Clark says Child Protective Services officials "had no knowledge of ever seeing the letters" the Diocese says it sent concerning abuse allegations.
Richard Thomas Brown
Barbara Landregan, director for Safe Environment for the Diocese, a program that aims to reduce abuse in the church, said a woman sent an email in October 2018 alleging that Richard Thomas Brown, 77, sexually assaulted her niece in the 1980s.
When the detective contacted the victim, she said she had met Brown at the Holy Family of Nazareth Catholic Church in Irving. Brown visited her in faith classes and took her back to the church offices and his home. The victim said Brown penetrated her with his fingers and made her touch his penis, the records said.
The victim said the abuse occurred over months, when she attended church with her aunt. In 2004, she made a report. But when Clark looked through Brown's 541-page personnel file, he writes, the "accusations were missing."
It took three weeks for church officials to turn over 51 additional pages from the file, but only a few contained information about the 2004 allegation. Some, he writes, "included correspondence with the victim's aunt and a Child Protective Services referral from 2018."
Most of the documentation from the 2004 allegation was absent.
Brown’s personnel file turned over by the Diocese before the search included reports where he admitted he touched two juveniles in Washington, D.C., and Irving.
But the allegations involved far more than that, the police detective discovered during his subsequent investigation.
The victim in D.C. told the Diocese that "Brown inserted his finger inside her anus." The victim from Irving said "Brown lifted her shirt and placed his mouth on her breasts." He was eventually transferred to another parish.
Clark, the police detective, said the file identified the D.C. victim, but the file did not include identification of the victim from Irving. He asked the Diocese's attorneys for help identifying her.
"The attorneys assured me all relevant information was in the file," Clark wrote, "and there was nothing else anywhere in the Diocese that would help identify the victim."
But Clark believed the Diocese could have more information.
On Feb. 19, 2019, the detective asked Diocese lawyer Robert Rogers for files concerning Brown's transfers. Rogers called the request "overly broad, unnecessary, and inappropriate," according to the affidavit.
Clark found Brown in Pecos, N.M., where Brown identified victims not mentioned in his personnel file. Brown admitted he sexually abused as many as 50 children during his time at the Diocese.
"It should be noted," Clark wrote, "Brown has not been investigated or prosecuted for any of his acts of sexual abuse against children."
Dallas police began investigating Alejandro Buitrago, 77, after the Diocese’s lawyers named him as a “credibly-accused priest”’ on Jan. 16. The Diocese handed over Buitrago’s file on Feb. 3.
Then, on Feb. 20, a woman told Dallas police that Buitrago molested her when she was five to seven years old. This occurred when she and her family attended St. Mark the Evangelist Church in Plano and Buitrago was a priest there.
Buitrago, who was removed from the priesthood in 2018, disputed his inclusion on the credibly accused list earlier this year.
The woman told police that Buitrago would visit her family where he would always kiss her on the mouth.
“Victim 3 states she remembered Buitrago moving her back and forth on his lap and could feel his erect penis on her clothed vagina,” Clark wrote.
The woman said she didn’t tell anyone at the time what happened and the family moved away a short time later.
In 2015, the woman said she contacted Edlund, the now-retired chancellor, but she never heard back and didn’t know if any action was taken, the affidavit says.
Plano police told Dallas police they had no record of Buitrago or Victim 3 in their files.
William Joseph Hughes, Jr
On Jan. 24, the Dallas Diocese gave Clark what its says was the entire file on another “credibly accused” priest, William Joseph Hughes, Jr.
But Clark wrote in the affidavit that the Diocese’s records on Hughes, 63, weren’t complete.
Clark wrote in the affidavit that his investigation revealed that Hughes was accused of having a sexual relationship with a minor for more than a year. That accusation was nowhere in the file. Nor did the file name any possible victims or punishment.
Attorneys for the Diocese told Dallas police that a 1994 civil lawsuit accused Hughes of having sex with the victim over a six-month period. The lawsuit was settled in 1998 and Hughes admitted to the sexual abuse, the affidavit states.
“Diocesan lawyers never made any attempt to provide the name of Hughes’ victim,” the affidavit states.
An attorney for the Diocese, Mike Moran, told Clark he would “follow up but he thought he gave me the entire Hughes file.
Moran, according to the affidavit, told Clark, “It’s my understanding you have all of it.”
The Diocese once had love letters written between the victim and Hughes, Clark said the website bishopaccountability.com reported. But a priest destroyed them.
“I requested an interview with that priest but the request has not been granted,” Clark wrote in the affidavit.
On Oct. 30, the detective received an allegation on another priest, Jeremy Myers, 62, via email from the Dallas Diocese.
Clark traveled to Arkansas to interview the victim at his home. The victim said he met Myers while in Arkansas at Subiaco Catholic School, where Myers was the dean of his dorm during his freshman year.
The victim said Myers “seemed to like him and would come to his defense anytime he got in trouble.” The victim said he received “extra privileges the other kids did not receive,” according to the affidavit.
Myers allowed the victim to stay in his room and hang out, which led to Myers “pulling down his pants and rubbing his buttocks.”
When the victim was kicked out of school his sophomore year, he moved back home and the parents reached out to the priest. The victim later visited Myers in Dallas, where the priest was working at the time.
Myers enrolled the victim in school and rented a duplex for him. The victim said, according to the records, he would spend the night at the clergy house where Myers worked. The victim said the priest would place his mouth on the victim’s penis when he stayed over.
A witness who saw their relationship reported it to the headmaster at the Catholic school. When the headmaster confronted Myers about the allegation, he said the victim “was lying about any sexual contact.” There was no further investigation, according to the affidavit.
According to the affidavit, the detective told the headmaster “he basically had Myers investigate his own sexual allegation claim.” The headmaster had no response, according to the records.
Myers’ personnel file turned over by the Diocese showed correspondence involving a different victim coming forward to the Dallas Diocese, the affidavit said. But the file contained nothing about the victim Meyers met in Arkansas and with whom he later allegedly had a relationship.