A Texas priest who stands accused of molesting teen boys and embezzling from his own parish has gone missing, the Dallas Morning News reports.
Church officials from St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Dallas believe Rev. Edumundo Paredes may have fled to his native country of the Philippines, after serving as a pastor at the parish for 27 years, according to the report.
An investigation into Paredes began in May 2017 amid claims that he stole anywhere from $60,000 to $80,000 in cash from the church. After reportedly admitting to the theft, Paredes was suspended from the ministry and subsequently removed from the church in June 2017.
At the time of his suspension, the sexual abuse allegations weren’t yet known publicly. At the 7:30 a.m. Mass on Sunday at St. Cecilia, Bishop Edward Burns informed parishioners of the disturbing news—saying church officials weren’t made aware of allegations that Paredes molested three teenage boys more than a decade ago until February, according to the Dallas Morning News.
“It was then that we immediately reported it to law enforcement agencies,” Burns told the media outlet. Further, he is urging anyone else who may have been assaulted to come forward.
“I need to come face to face with the frustration. I need to come face to face with this issue, with the anger, with the rage. I recognize this diocese cannot cover its ears, its eyes, its mouth. We need to look at this head on.”
Burns said the information was withheld from the public until Sunday so that it wouldn’t hinder the investigation by Dallas police or compromise the victims’ identities—adding that officials believe the allegations to be credible.
Further, Burns said he wanted to make the information public after a Pennsylvania grand jury’s report revealed last week that over 1,000 minors had been abused by Roman Catholic clergy in the state since the 1940s, as previously covered by CrimeOnline.
[Feature photo: Edumundo Paredes, WFAA/YouTube screengrab]