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Texas priest disappears amid molestation allegations

Texas priest disappears amid molestation allegations
Posted at 3:48 PM, Aug 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-20 22:34:47-04

A Texas priest who's accused of molesting teens and stealing from his parish has gone missing.

St. Cecilia Catholic Church officials believe the Rev. Edmundo Paredes may have fled to his native country of the Philippines, The Dallas Morning News reported. He'd been a pastor at the church for 27 years.

Dallas police have found the sexual abuse allegations to be credible, said Bishop Edward Burns. Paredes is no longer allowed to function or present himself as a priest, he said.

The church first began investigating Paredes in May 2017 over allegations he stole $60,000 to $80,000 in cash from the parish. Paredes admitted to the financial misconduct and was suspended from the ministry and removed from the church in June 2017, Burns said.

The Catholic Diocese of Dallas wasn't aware of the sexual assault allegations at the time of the suspension, said a spokeswoman for the diocese.

RELATED: Read Pope Francis' letter on abuse

Church officials then received allegations in February that Paredes molested three teenage boys more than a decade ago.

Burns disclosed the allegations to parishioners Sunday after consulting with the Diocesan Review Board, a group of non-clergy Catholics who counsel the diocese on matters involving the sexual abuse of minors. The information wasn't disclosed earlier because officials didn't want to hinder the police investigation or compromise the victims' identities, a church spokeswoman said.

The information follows a recent report from Pennsylvania that said more than 1,000 had been abused by the clergy since the 1940s.

The Catholic Church is hiring private investigators to find Paredes, Burns said.