Dallas Diocese priest arrested for indecency with a child

WFAA-TV, ABC-8 [Dallas TX]

May 9, 2024

By Rachel Behrndt and Brittani Moncrease

Ricardo Reyes Mata, 34, was arrested Monday by Garland police and charged with two felony counts. He was ordained in 2022.

GARLAND, Texas — Police want you to see his face. Many might recognize him, even if he looks different these days. 

“We received a call on a Friday, a report from the diocese as well as family members, regarding an actual offense that occurred regarding this priest,” Garland Police Public Information Officer Lt. Pedro Barineau said on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, Garland Police announced that its officers had arrested 34-year-old Ricardo Reyes Mata, a priest with the Catholic Diocese of Dallas. 

Reyes Mata is accused of inappropriately touching two minors in a Garland home. Police told WFAA, the alleged victims ages range from 10 to 17.

Versión en Español: Sacerdote de la Diócesis de Dallas fue arrestado por acciones indecentes con un niño

“You can only imagine that a situation like this can be traumatic for anybody — especially a child who may not know what to expect,” said Barineau.

Credit-Dallas Diocese
Credit: Dallas Diocese

WFAA confirmed with the Catholic Diocese of Dallas that Reyes Mata had served as a priest at the National Shrine Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Downtown Dallas. He was ordained in 2022 and had previously worked at St. Jude Catholic Church in Allen. 

He also worked as a chaplain at Bishop Dunne Catholic School in Dallas from 2023 until last week, the Diocese confirms.

“Children, sometimes, they may not be as forth coming for whatever reason — embarrassment or what other reason there may be,” Barineau said. “Ultimately, we’re putting [this information] out there in case this person has come in contact with somebody else, and there may be an outcry somewhere else.”

An arrest affidavit obtained by WFAA said on May 3, the Director of Security for the Catholic Diocese of Dallas contacted Garland Police about an incident that occurred on or about April 5. According to the affidavit, a 10-year-old girl told her teacher that she was inappropriately touched by Reyes Mata while he was visiting her home. 

Police said it is unclear why Reyes Mata was visiting the minors’ Garland homes when the alleged incident took place. They said the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center conducted forensic interviews, Monday, with the 10-year-old girl who had four siblings. According to the affidavit, during those interviews, at least two of the victim’s sisters mentioned possible sexual abuse by Reyes Mata as well. They were 11 and 14 years old. Shortly thereafter, an arrest warrant was issued for Reyes Mata. 

He turned himself into Garland Police on Monday and is charged with indecency against two children.

The Catholic Diocese of Dallas released the following statement in the wake of Garland Police’s press release about Reyes Mata’s arrest:

The Diocese of Dallas was recently made aware of an allegation by a juvenile girl of inappropriate touching involving a priest. No inappropriate activity was reported to have occurred on diocesan property.

Upon learning of the allegation last week, diocesan officials immediately filed a report with Child Protective Services and law enforcement. The priest was immediately removed from all public ministry when the Diocese of Dallas learned of the allegation.

We are grateful for law enforcement’s thorough response,” said Bishop Edward J. Burns of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas. “Let us come together in prayer, respecting the dignity of all involved, seeking strength and guidance from our faith during this challenging time.”

We take all allegations of misconduct seriously. At the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, the safety and well-being of everyone is of paramount importance. Anyone with information should call the Garland police department. 

Reyes Mata has been charged with two felony counts of indecency with a child. He is being held in the Garland Detention Center. His bonds are set at $75,000 and $100,000. On Thursday, he was released form jail on bond. 

“We want to make sure that we provide justice and we do our jobs so that those affected — family included — can know that we are doing everything we can to bring them closure,” said Barineau.

“To the faithful of the Diocese of Dallas, this is a difficult time. It is painful to watch the news about this alleged abuse. It’s embarrassing but it is necessary. This is what zero tolerance looks like,” said Bishop Burns in a video statement shared on the Catholic Diocese of Dallas website. “While all of this is hard we have to be steadfast in our pledge to protect our children and vulnerable adults.”https://player.vimeo.com/video/944262366?h=9e03e0b4ca&app_id=122963&byline=0&badge=0&portrait=0&title=0

Investigators are asking anyone with information about this incident or other similar incidents to call the Garland Police Department at 972-485-4840.