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Dallas Diocese suspends priest over sexual abuse allegations, theft

Upon learning of the allegations in February, Diocese officials immediately filed a report with law enforcement agencies to launch a criminal investigation. The Diocese said the allegations were found to be credible.

DALLAS — Dallas Diocese Bishop Edward Burns informed parishioners at St. Cecilia Catholic Church this weekend about allegations of sexual abuse by their former pastor, Reverend Edmundo Paredes.

According to the Diocese, the allegations came from three adults, who said the criminal sexual acts occurred when they were in their mid teens, more than a decade ago.

The accusers are all male.

Officials also said that they have not been able to locate Paredes. He is from the Philippines and takes yearly trips there, Diocese spokeswoman Annette Gonzales Taylor said.

Bishop Edward Burns said that they have hired two private investigators to try and track the man down.

"Now that we know of his criminal sexual acts, we want to get a handle on him," said Burns.

Upon learning of the allegations in February, Diocese officials immediately filed a report with law enforcement agencies to launch a criminal investigation.

"The allegations were found to be credible," said Burns.

Paredes has been suspended and is no longer is allowed to function or represent himself as a priest. He left St. Cecilia last year, before the sex abuse allegations surfaced.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, issued a statement Sunday criticizing the Dallas Diocese, questioning why Burns didn't notify parishioners of the abuse allegations until Saturday.

Burns "failed to notify parishioners in a timely manner" that Paredes was under investigation, the SNAP DFW chapter's statement said.

"Why would Bishop burns suppress this crucial information?" SNAP said. "Was it to protect the diocese from scandal? What about concern for the safety of children and the need to comfort any survivors?"

Burns said that he had to consult with his Diocese review board before he could release the information. He said it became apparent after the Pennsylvania report that it was necessary.

"There are tears, disbelief, dismay, frustration," he said of the reaction from the congregation.

In addition to the abuse allegations, the Diocese was also informed that theft had occurred at the parish while Paredes was pastor. Paredes has admitted to financial misconduct with certain parish funds, the Diocese said. The missing funds were an estimated $60,000-$80,000 in cash.

The funds from St. Cecilia Catholic School and the funds donated for the rebuilding of the church following a 2007 fire had not been affected.

Bishop Burns told parishioners Saturday evening that the Diocese's “priority was to determine the truth and protect the victims who showed courage by coming forward. With the utmost sensitivity to victims, I have pledged to continue efforts of transparency and need to make you aware of this atrocious and sad event.”

“I want to assure the entire community that we are working to find solutions to create a safer environment," Bishop Burns told the parishioners. "I offer my heartfelt apologies that these crimes have happened in your parish and please know I am praying for all victims of sexual abuse and for all of you here in the St. Cecilia community.”

The Diocese of Dallas has asked anyone who has suffered abuse by church personnel to report it to law enforcement and contact Victims Assistance Coordinator Mary Edlund at medlund@cathdal.org or 214379-2819.

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