DALLAS — As the Dallas Catholic diocese prepares to release the names of priests “credibly accused” of sexually abusing minors Thursday, many are wondering: What can law enforcement do with the list?
The reality is that police can only act when a victim is willing to come forward and file a police report.
“Without an outcry, the police can’t do anything,” said Brenda Nichols, a former supervisor of the Dallas PD’s child abuse unit.
Once a victim comes forward, police can investigate to determine if there’s enough evidence to obtain a warrant.
The case of accused priest Edmundo Paredes is instructive. He was the former longtime pastor at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Oak Cliff.
In August, it became public knowledge that Paredes had been accused of sexually assaulting three teenage boys more than a decade ago and taking money from his parish. Parades is believed to have fled to his native Philippines.
Yet months went by before an arrest warrant was issued for him. That’s because the initial three victims did not want to be pursue criminal charges, police said.
But days after the allegations became public, a fourth victim told police that Paredes had assaulted him in the mid-1990s. Police investigated the case for months and only obtained an arrest warrant Jan. 10 accusing Paredes of sexual assault of a child.
This past October, Dallas Bishop Edward Burns announced the diocese would be releasing a list of “all clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors dating back to 1950.”
Burns did not elaborate about what he meant by “credibly accused.”
“We’re going to make sure that the criteria is the same across the state,” Burns told reporters last year. The Dallas diocese is one of 15 in Texas expected to release lists of accused priests Thursday.
“When we bring forth our list, we will also bring forth that criteria,” Burns said.
Some of the names expected to be on the list are likely to be familiar. Names like former priest Rudy Kos, who was convicted in 1998 on three counts of aggravated sexual assault and sentenced to life in prison.
Burns, however, did say that some of the names on the list may be surprising.
A six-person team of former FBI agents and law enforcement agents have been brought in to review the church’s files.
The bishop also said no priests are currently working in the diocese who have been “credibly accused of sexual abuse of a child.”
“The church is definitely in crisis,” Burns said in October.
Nichols, the former child abuse unit supervisor, said victims of sexual abuse often are reluctant to speak to police about what happened to them.
“There’s this huge area of embarrassment and shame when, in fact, they did nothing wrong,” she said.