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DALLAS (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Dallas diocese — long wracked by clerical sex abuse scandals — was raided by Dallas police officers wielding a 42-page search warrant at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Police investigators conducted searches of three facilities, including a warehouse, St. Cecilia's parish and the diocese's headquarters. The warrant became necessary, said Dallas Special Investigations Division Major Max Geron, because of perceptions the diocese was withholding information critical to their outside investigation.
The police investigation was prompted by an affidavit from last August in which credible accusations of sexual abuse were leveled against Fr. Edmundo Paredes, the pastor at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in the Dallas diocese city of Oak Cliff.
According to the affidavit, Paredes allegedly molested at least three boys in the 1990s. Paredes is also accused of stealing from the parish. Paredes' location has been unknown since last August, but some sources say he may have returned to his native home in the Philippines.
Thirty-one men appeared on a list of priests credibly accused of sexual molestation in the diocese since 1950 that was publicly issued by the diocese last January. However, Dallas police said they weren't allowed to coordinate their efforts with the investigation team hired by the diocese, leading Dallas detectives to conclude that the diocese wasn't fully cooperative.
Detectives are also seeking information related to four other priests suspected of sexually abusing minors, said Geron in a Wednesday afternoon press conference.
As reported by The Dallas Morning News:
The affidavit says Parades "groomed him by taking him and other altar servers out to eat between masses and bought them things." But in 1994, when the victim was a juvenile, the sexual assaults begin: The victim told police "Parades touched him on his genitals and Parades placed his mouth on [his] genitals."
Police interviewed several parishioners, officer staff members and priests, all of whom corroborated that Paredes brought "several juveniles" into the rectory during evenings and weekends. The affidavit says, too, that "some office staff members met with now-retired Chancellor Edlund, in 2006, regarding their concerns over Parades having juveniles inside the church offices and inside his residence."
Church Militant will offer updates as news continues to break on this story.