Dallas police searched the headquarters of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas and other properties Wednesday as part of the church’s widening sex abuse scandal, police and church officials said.
Maj. Max Geron of the special investigations division said the raids are related to five new 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.
Dallas authorities said they consider Paredes a fugitive.
The parish was one of the locations searched Wednesday, along with the diocese headquarters and a storage facility, Geron said.
“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 comes as the church — both in the United States and around the world — wrestles with a fresh wave of scandals that have spurred criminal investigations, roiled the faithful and damaged the institution’s moral credibility.
The raids 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.“We feel like we were being transparent,” Gonzales Taylor told CNN.
The diocese was not subpoenaed, she said.
The watchdog group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests praised Wednesday’s searches as a sign “police and prosecutors are taking the issue of clergy abuse in Texas seriously and are not just relying on the promises of church officials.”
“We hope that this raid today sheds more light on the clergy abuse scandal as it relates to the Diocese of Dallas and will uncover the full truth of who knew what, when they knew it, and what steps church officials took in response to allegations of sexual abuse,” the group’s statement said.
The search warrants were executed at various properties Wednesday, including the pastoral center and administrative offices, Gonzales Taylor said.
Gonzales Taylor said police were looking for files of priests who were on a list the diocese released this year of clergy who had been the subject of credible accusations.