A little more than three months after promising this day would come, Dallas' Roman Catholic diocese made good Thursday, releasing the names of 31 priests with ties to Dallas who were the subjects of credible allegations of sexual abuse. Joining with Dallas, dioceses across the state released the names of about 300 priests Thursday.
Of the 31 priests named, 17 are dead, five have been convicted of sexual crimes and four of the living priests have been removed from the clergy, according to the diocese. None are currently serving as a minister.
"Today, I am following through on a commitment I made in October to provide the names of those priests who have been the subject of a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor in the Diocese during the period from 1950 to the present," Bishop Edward J. Burns said in a letter to Dallas Catholics on Thursday. "A “'credible allegation' is one that, after review of reasonably available, relevant information in consultation with the Diocesan Review Board or other professionals, there is reason to believe is true."
An outside group of former federal and state law enforcement officers compiled the list after reviewing the records of the more than 2,400 priests who have served in the Dallas diocese since 1950, Burns said in the letter.
"As we look back at the Church’s history, our failure to protect our most vulnerable from abuse, and hold accountable those who preyed on them, fills me with both sorrow and shame," Burns said. "But the painful yet necessary process that began in 2002 in this Diocese has also led to much-needed reforms that we continue to rigorously implement today."
Among those included on the list are Rudy Kos, the infamous Dallas priest who got a life sentence for child sexual abuse in 1998, Edmundo Paredes, the Oak Cliff priest believed to be hiding in the Philippines, and Patrick Koch, who served as president of Jesuit Preparatory School in Dallas from 1979 to 1980.
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In 1997, a Dallas County jury awarded Kos' victims a $120 million verdict, at the time the largest ever for a clergy sex abuse case. The Dallas diocese appealed the ruling and eventually settled with nine abuse victims for $23.4 million.
Victims' rights groups acknowledged that the release of the list of priests was a positive step but pushed the diocese to take further steps to ensure transparency and accountability.
"The only way to ensure that the bishops here in Texas are truly sincere about rebuilding their sacred trust is to allow for independent, properly trained experts in law enforcement to review all the files," a statement from Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said. "We call upon prosecuting attorneys and the Texas attorney general to launch an independent investigation into clergy sex abuse crimes and cover-ups."
Burns said he turned the list of names over to law enforcement and encouraged any victims of unreported abuse to come forward.