The Catholic Church has hired two private investigators to track down a former Dallas priest who disappeared months before sexual abuse allegations against him surfaced. Pastor at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Oak Cliff for 27 years, Rev. Edmundo Paredes stands accused of molesting three boys in their midteens between 10 and 20 years ago, though the exact period is being withheld to protect the victims’ identities, reports the Dallas Morning News. Paredes, 69, was removed from St. Cecilia in June 2017 after allegedly stealing $60,000 to $80,000 in cash. This February, church officials also learned of sexual abuse allegations, which were reported to police and found to be credible, Bishop Edward Burns told parishioners on Sunday.
"I recognize this diocese cannot cover its ears, its eyes, its mouth. We need to look at this head on," Burns said. Still, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests questions the delay in releasing the information. Officials initially said the allegations weren’t disclosed earlier because of a police investigation. Late Monday, however, the Diocese of Dallas said a Pennsylvania grand jury report describing more than 1,000 victims of abuse by clergy since the 1940s had motivated the disclosure after victims objected to an announcement in March, per Fox 4. Officials suspect Paredes is in his native Philippines, which he visited annually, per WFAA. Per the Morning News, authorities there say they are unaware of his location. (Read more priest sex abuse stories.)