Dallas Police Department Investigation into Clergy Abuse Stalled Due to Legal Order

Six months after raiding diocesan offices, investigators with the Dallas Police Department have had their attempts to review files stymied by diocesan lawyers and legal technicalities.

Once again it feels like Catholic officials treat transparency as a buzzword to be trotted out for the media but not followed. It is disappointing to learn that the records seized by the DPD have yet to be seen by investigators, and frustrating to know that Church leaders in Dallas are still impeding the efforts of law enforcement.

Six months ago, when investigators first raided his diocese, Dallas’ Bishop Edward Burns defiantly told the press “and so we say, by all means, look.” If Catholic officials really believed in transparency and wanted the public to be informed, they would let the DPD do their job. But by quietly operating behind the scenes they show that they care more about their reputation than the truth.

Church leaders claim that files were taken at random and that the police took too many documents during the raid. Yet multiple secular investigations – from Pennsylvania to Oklahoma to Colorado – have shown that allegations of abuse can be scattered throughout various files and kept in odd places, so Dallas’ Catholic officials request to the judge that files “that do not involve allegations of abuse” be returned seems counter to the public statement of "by all means, look.” More to the point, how will investigators at the DPD even know which files are related to abuse and which are not unless they are able  to review the files themselves?

Committed and concerned parishioners should support survivors and victims and pressure the diocese to let the police do their job. We hope they will add their voice to ours and demand that their Church officials step out of the way and allow this investigation to be completed without further interference.

We hope that the judge’s order reconsiders his order, and that the DPD is able to complete what they started half a year ago by getting as complete a picture of the problem as possible and by using that information to ensure abusers are off the streets, children are protected, and parents, parishioners, and the public have the information they need to keep their communities safe.

CONTACT: Lisa Kendzior ([email protected], 817-773-5907), Paul Petersen ([email protected], 972-569-0995), Zach Hiner ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

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