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Dallas Catholic church leaders concealed details of sexual abuse accusations, police say

Det. David Clark writes in a search warrant affidavit, “individuals involved in the Dioceses’ vetting process have lost confidence in that process.”


This is a breaking news story that will be continuously updated. 

The investigation into sexual abuse accusations of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas was repeatedly stonewalled by church officials, a search warrant executed Wednesday details.  

But Bishop Edward Burns disputed details of that search warrant, saying church officials have been "cooperating" with law enforcement. 

The Dallas police child exploitation unit has been investigating sexual abuse allegations since February 2018. 

In January of this year, Catholic officials released the names of 31 priests who have been "credibly accused" of sexual abuse. 

RELATED: Police searching Catholic Diocese of Dallas in sex abuse scandal

Though the bishop said diocese officials have handed over all of its priest files, Det. David Clark writes in the search warrant affidavit that the diocese handed over incomplete files. 

"Individuals involved in the Dioceses’ vetting process have lost confidence in that process," Clark writes in the warrant. 

Searches were conducted Wednesday at the diocese, a Catholic church in Oak Cliff and a warehouse in connection with the sexual abuse allegations.

“We know we have given them the files, so we say, ‘By all means look,’” Burns said during a news conference. “What this does is give us another opportunity to be cooperative and transparent.” 

Credit: Jason Whitely, WFAA
Bishop Edward Burns of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas said church officials have been "cooperating" with a police investigation into sexual abuse allegations against priests.

He said the diocese's investigation went through 2,424 files dating back to 1950 to identify 31 priests who have been "credibly accused" of sexual abuse. 

The police search warrant carefully details the investigation into the local diocese and sexual assault allegations against five priests who have worked in Dallas.

The warrant says one of the accused priests was actually asked to investigate himself, records show. And, the warrant says, the outside investigators hired by the diocese were initially asked to look into "financial improprieties" by the priests and not sexual abuse allegations. 

RELATED: Dallas Diocese releases 31 names of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse: Here are their names

So far, no priests have been arrested in connection with the sexual assault investigation, and only one currently faces a sexual assault criminal charge. 

Investigators are looking for details on five men: Edmundo Paredes, 70; Richard Thomas Brown, 77; Alejandro Buitrago, 77; William Joseph Hughes, Jr., 63; Jeremy Myers, 62, according to the search warrant affidavit. 

The detective believes the five men committed sexual abuse of a child, the search warrant says.

Paredes is believed to have fled the country after an arrest warrant was issued in January, authorities said. 

Internal investigation

The diocese hired a team of six investigators to examine its priests’ files. Dallas police met with Burns, who “assured” them that there was a process in place to investigate all priest files and that the investigators would be former law enforcement officials.  

But the police search warrant says the diocese didn't turn over all the names of the people involved in the internal investigation. 

RELATED: Who investigated the Dallas diocese?

“However, Diocesan attorneys only provided police personnel with the names of only one or two of the individuals who would exercise the promised oversight,” Clark writes in the search warrant.  

The search warrant also says that investigators were not granted requests to meet with the investigators hired by the Catholic diocese.  

Clark points out in the search warrant that the diocese's investigators were initially hired to look into “financial improprieties” involving priests and not sexual assault allegations.  

The internal investigation was reviewed by the Diocesan Review Board. Burns said the board is made up of people "who are so very credible." 

Burns said during the news conference that he has not asked the members of the internal investigation and the review board whether he could release their names.

“I do need to be quite clear that we are doing what is right," Burns said. 

“The assurance comes not only by my word but also the word of everybody else who works with them," the bishop said of the people involved in the internal investigation. 

Dallas police were given a list of the occupations of the review board members. 

"However, none of the members' occupations were related to child abuse investigations," Clark writes. 

Incomplete files

Investigators “requested the number of priests’ files flagged for sexual abuse” but were denied the request by an attorney representing the diocese. The attorney told investigators the information was “privileged.”  

“To date, the Dallas Police Department has not been given the number of priests’ files flagged for sexual abuse,” the search warrant says.  

Clark writes that when he was assigned to the case he talked to the diocese’s attorney, Bill Sims.  

The attorney, according to Clark, said he believed “the victims were in a monetary settlement process and he believed the victims did not want to pursue criminal allegations.” 

Burns said there were many inaccuracies in the search warrant at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. He did not clarify what those inaccuracies were. 

“We’d be more than happy to address those inaccuracies with the Dallas Police Department,” Burns said. 

But, he said, he supports the police investigation. 

“If you really think there is something more, then look. If you want to look at something closer, then take it," Burns said. 

The allegations:

Alejandro Buitrago, 77

Credit: Maria Carrillo/Facebook

Dallas police met with the Diocese’s lawyers on Jan. 16, where Buitrago was named as a “credibly accused priest.” A victim had reported in 2015 that she had been sexually abused by Buitrago. The detective wrote that he received the priest’s file on Feb. 3. 

On Feb. 20, detectives interviewed the victim who said that she and her family were parishioners at St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church in Plano, where Buitrago was a priest. She told police he “quickly befriended her family after her parents divorced,” the affidavit said. 

The victim said she was between five and seven years old when the priest visited her family and her grandmother came to live with them from Peru. Her grandmother became close to the priest and would come visit her grandmother. 

She told detectives that Buitrago “sat her on his lap and started kissing her on her mouth,” the affidavit said. “She remembered Buitrago moving her back and forth on his lap.” 

The victim said she never told anyone about his incident and that a short time later, her family moved and left the parish. 

She told police that in 2015, she contacted Chancellor Edlund “but never heard back with what action, if any, was taken.” Dallas police contacted Plano police and found that the allegation was never investigated and they had no record of Buitrago or the victim in their files.

Jeremy Myers, 62

Myers is accused of sexually assaulting a student at a Catholic school in the 1980s. At the time, the school's headmaster told Myers he had been accused of abusing a male student, and Myers said he would talk to the alleged victim, the search warrant says. 

When Myers responded to the headmaster, he claimed the victim said "he was lying about any sexual contact between him and Myers," the warrant says. 

“I said to Abott Wangler he basically had Myers to investigate his own sexual allegation claim, to which Abott Wangler had no response,” Clark writes. 

The alleged victim told Clark he first met Myers while attending Subiaco Catholic School in 1986, where Myers was dean of his dorm during his freshman year. He said Myers “seemed to like him and would come to his defense anytime he got in trouble,” the affidavit said.

He “stated he would start to see some extra privileges the other kids did not receive.” He said Myers allowed him to stay in his room and hang out. 

The victim said he was kicked out of the school the sophomore year and moved back home. A short time later, his parents reached out to Myers and the priest agreed to let him come and visit him in Dallas where he was working at that time. The victim said he began living with Myers and said the priest enrolled him in school and rented a duplex for him to live in.  

The victim said he would spend the night at the rectory where Myers worked and that while staying with the priest, the priest performed oral sex on him, the affidavit says. 

After several months, he moved back home to live with his parents.

William Joseph Hughes Jr., 63

The investigation into Hughes revealed he was accused of having a sexual relationship with a minor for more than a year.  

However, “nowhere in Hughes' 319-page file did it reveal the accusations, reveal the identity of the victim(s), or state the punishment, if any, assessed Hughes,” the search warrant says.  

In a lawsuit settled in 1998, Hughes admitted to the sexual abuse. 

The dioceses also possessed love letters between Hughes and the sexual abuse victim, but a priest destroyed them.  

“I requested an interview with that priest but the request has not been granted,” Clark writes.  

The detective also says the diocese’s lawyers “never made any attempt to provide the name of Hughes’ victim.”

Richard Thomas Brown, 77

Brown acknowledges sexually abusing two victims, but his file only names one victim, the warrant says.  

A diocese official received an email from a woman who said her niece was sexually assaulted by Brown in the 1980s. The alleged victim met Brown at Holy Family Catholic Church in Irving.  

During that time, Brown repeatedly took the girl to his home and “would digitally penetrate her and make her touch his penis,” the warrant says.  

The woman reported the abuse to the diocese in 2004, but her accusations were not included in the priest’s file. The diocese’s attorneys later sent an additional 51 pages from Brown’s file to investigators, the warrant says.  

Brown is also accused of sexually abusing a girl in 1980 in Washington D.C.  

His file shows that in 1994, the priest "admitted during therapy sessions he would become sexually aroused when juvenile girls would sit on his lap,” the warrant says.  

The diocese received a report in 2002 that Brown was inappropriately touching at least one daughter of an Illinois family between 1996 and 2001. The priest later called this an "accident." 

 In 2002, the Diocese was notified that Brown was inappropriately touching the at least one daughter of an Illinois family from 1996-2001. Brown later called this an "accident." 

Edmundo Paredes, 70 

Credit: WFAA

One male victim reported he was an altar server when he met Paredes in 1991. The victim said Paredes took “him and other altar servers out to eat between masses and bought them things.” He said he was sexually abused from 1991 to 1994 by Paredes, the search warrant says.  

Several office staff, parishioners and priests were interviewed by Dallas police. They reported that Paredes was seen taking juveniles into his residence at night and on the weekends.  

Clark writes in the search warrant that Dallas diocese officials reported there was a meeting with church members in 2006. The official said Paredes' priest file should contain information on that meeting. 

The file had no information regarding the meeting, Clark writes. 

Reporters Tanya Eiserer and Charlotte Huffman contributed to this report. 

RELATED: Dallas Diocese releases 31 names of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse: Here are their names

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