The Latest: Bishop says church was not trying to hide files
DALLAS (AP) — The Latest on police searching the Catholic Diocese of Dallas (all times local):
Bishop Edward Burns has brushed aside statements in a police affidavit that his diocese stymied efforts to obtain files about clerical abuse, saying church officials are being as transparent as possible.
The bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Dallas responded at a press conference to sworn statements from a city police investigator.
Detective David Clark wrote in an affidavit supporting the search warrants executed Wednesday that priests and lawyers for the church gave him incomplete and inaccurate records. Clark wrote that his efforts to obtain some material about the alleged sexual abuse of children were “thwarted.”
Burns says he is confident that he and the diocese “are doing this right” and are “doing everything possible to create a safe environment.”
The bishop says a retired FBI agent who the diocese brought in to review its files told him the affidavit and search warrants were rife with errors. He did not name the former agent.
Authorities say a police investigation that began last year into sexual abuse allegations against a former priest uncovered abuse claims against others, leading to a decision to search the Catholic Diocese of Dallas.
Police Maj. Max Geron told reporters Wednesday that the diocese headquarters, a storage building and the offices of a church were being searched.
Geron says the events began last August with the investigation of Edmundo Paredes, a former priest who is believed to have fled Texas following claims that he abused three teenagers.
Geron says that investigation resulted in allegations of abuse committed by at least five others. It wasn’t immediately clear if the others are all current or former priests with the Dallas diocese.
He says the execution of the search warrants “was wholly appropriate for the furtherance of the investigation at this point.”
Police have blocked entryways and restricted access to the Catholic Diocese of Dallas as they search the offices in a sexual abuse investigation.
Authorities executed a search warrant Wednesday but have not indicated the purpose of the search. WFAA-TV obtained a copy of the warrant, which says investigators are seeking information on five men on allegations they sexually assaulted children. Police were scheduled to release additional information later Wednesday.
A spokeswoman told the station that the diocese has been cooperating with investigators and is surprised by the search.
The police action follows the decision in January by 14 Catholic dioceses in Texas to release the names of nearly 300 former priests and others accused of sexually abusing children.