By Rhina Guidos, Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON — In Nebraska, the state’s Attorney General is said to be looking at decades-old allegations of sex abuse by priests in the Diocese of Lincoln. In Illinois, the Diocese of Joliet announced in late August it was settling, for $1.4 million, a lawsuit brought about by men who said they were molested as boys by a priest. And in Texas, the Diocese of Dallas said on Aug. 30 it had reached a settlement, but did not say for how much, with men who said they were abused more than a decade ago by one of its priests, who has recently gone missing.
Though recent revelations of past sex abuse by priests in the Catholic Church began in Pennsylvania when a grand jury released a report on Aug. 14 detailing the claims, it has given rise to similar claims and investigations at dioceses big and small around the country.
In late August, The Omaha World-Herald newspaper said it had talked to a man who had been recently interviewed by officials from the state’s Attorney General’s office about his claims that he had been groped by a priest in the 1980s. The newspaper reported that state officials said they do not comment on ongoing investigations but in mid-August encouraged victims to report abuse, and said the office wanted to pursue “criminal prosecutions of child exploitation.”
Lawyers for the Diocese of Joliet, meanwhile, disclosed on Aug. 30 they had settled a lawsuit with three men who in 2014 said they had been abused by Father Leonard Mateo in the early 1980s when they were ages 8, 6, and 10, The Associated Press reported. Documents showed, the AP said in the Aug. 30 story, that then-Bishop Joseph L. Imesch, who died in 2015, “admitted in a deposition that priests with credible sexual abuse allegations were allowed to continue ministry within the Diocese of Joliet without any warning to parishioners.”
In Dallas, news reports for the last week of August focused on the disappearance of Father Edmundo Paredes, whom diocesan officials accuse of theft of approximately $80,000, from the parish he managed. While investigating the theft, diocesan officials came upon the abuse allegations, said a Sept. 2 report from the Dallas Morning News. He was the focus of a story investigating his disappearance from the Dallas area six months ago.
The Diocese of Dallas said in late August that it had reached a settlement of a yet-undisclosed amount with three men who accused the priest of sexual misconduct. Their claims were found to be credible, Dallas Bishop Edward J. Burns said in an Aug. 30 news conference.