Catholic priest arrested in Texas; SNAP reacts

Credit: Garland Police Department

For Immediate Release:  May 7, 2024

Police in Garland, Texas, said today in a news release that they had arrested a priest from the Catholic Diocese of Dallas on two felony counts of indecency with a child. We are grateful that law enforcement has charged the clergyman. However, we are concerned that there may be other victims and we urge the Diocese to do outreach. 

The Diocese of Dallas said that it was made aware last week of accusations that Fr. Ricardo Reyes Mata inappropriately touched a juvenile girl at a residence in Garland. According to the Diocese’s statement, Church officials immediately filed a report with Child Protective Services and law enforcement. Fr. Mata was also removed from public ministry.

We commend the Diocese for this appropriate response. However, we also believe that this arrest shows us once again that the persistent claims from Church officials that the abuse scandal is a thing of the past are simply not true. Each month we read, on average, of at least two news reports about the arrest of Catholic clerics or staffers for sexual abuse or misconduct. This disturbing news from Texas reaffirms that clergy sexual abuse is still very much a thing of the present.

Moreover, Fr. Mata was only ordained in 2022. The priest was appointed Parochial Vicar of the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Dallas in July of 2023. He also worked as the Parochial Vicar of St. Jude Parish in Allen and was the Chaplain at Bishop Dunne High School.

We feel it is incumbent upon Bishop Edward J. Burns to announce this arrest in every place that Fr. Mata was assigned either as a cleric or a seminarian, and to beg anyone who may have experienced, witnessed, or suspected abuse to contact the Garland Police Department at 972-485-4840.

It can take victims decades to acknowledge their abuse and find the courage to come forward. However, the fact that one survivor has already been identified, may help to shorten this process.

In the meantime, it is important to recognize that rules and regulations do not protect children, and that there is no effective protocol to screen for potential offenders. Parishioners and the public need to be aware of these facts, and remain alert for signs that a child is being groomed or harmed.

CONTACT: Melanie Sakoda, Survivor Support Director ([email protected], 925-708-6175), Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Interim Executive Director ([email protected], 814-341-8386)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 35 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant