Editor's note: This article has been updated with the names of additional priests who served in the Texoma area.
Longtime St. Mary’s Catholic Church Priest Jeremy Myers was named Thursday among a statewide list of church officials who have been “credibly accused” of sexual abuse of minors.
The Catholic Diocese of Dallas released the list of 31 accused priests on its website Thursday afternoon, under the direction of Bishop Edward Burns. A profile of Myers on the diocese website indicated he was “removed” from service in 2018 and was “suspended.” It wasn’t immediately clear whether any allegations against Myers were made during his 25 years as an official at St. Mary’s.
Deacon Albert Miller said to his knowledge, no complaints had ever been filed against Myers while serving in Sherman. The Sherman Police Department said it had no criminal charges or complaints on file against Myers. In an online letter accompanying the list, Burns said he had forwarded the included names to law enforcement agencies, but inclusion on the list was not an indication of guilt, a criminal conviction or an admission.
The list included names of 31 priests and clergymen within the Dallas diocese and 286 church leaders statewide. The Dallas diocese reportedly began reviewing more than 2,400 personnel files in February 2018 and announced the names of accused priests would be published in early 2019. Texas’ 14 other dioceses also agreed to publish the names of their accused priests by Thursday.
“To those of you who have been abused, I stand before you expressing the sorrow of the church that they were abused by men who worked to be trusted and that trust was broken and that innocent lives were shattered,” Burns said at a press conference Thursday. “For that, it is important that we do whatever we can to reach out to victims and assist in their healing.”
A phone number for Myers could not be found Thursday. Calls and emails seeking comment from the Catholic Diocese of Dallas were not immediately returned Thursday and were not answered at St. Mary’s.
Miller said Burns spoke to parishioners in Sherman on Wednesday night and informed those present that Myers’ name would appear on the list Thursday. Miller said Burns previously spoke with parishioners in 2018 to inform them that Myers would no longer serve as St. Mary’s head priest, but offered no other details amid his departure. It wasn’t immediately clear when Myers’ service at St. Mary’s ended. Miller said church officials and parishioners alike were shocked by the news.
“They asked a lot of questions of the bishop, but he said could not elaborate because it was still an ongoing investigation,” Miller said.
The Dallas diocese website defined a credible allegation as “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.” The list includes names of priests accused of abuse beginning in 1950 and was said to be compiled by outside investigators with former federal and state law enforcement service. Work to assemble the list reportedly began in February 2018.
In a statement released following the publication of the list, the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests called for further transparency.
“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,” SNAP said in its statement. “We call upon prosecuting attorneys and the Texas attorney general to launch an independent investigation into clergy sex abuse crimes and cover-ups. We care about rooting out evil in positions of power within churches of all faiths and we need to trust that church officials are forthright and honest when it comes to the standards of care for innocent children and vulnerable adults.”
Myers was ordained in 1984 and his previous assignment history, as detailed by the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, included service at St. Francis of Assisi Quasi Catholic Church in Whitesboro, Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Garland and St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church with no city listed, though there is a St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Dallas.
Two other priests who previously served at St. Mary’s, but have since died, were included on the list. John Duesman retired in 1975 and died in 1984. Michael Flanagan retired in 1998 and died in 2008. Jose Saldana, who previously served at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Bonham, was removed from service in 1998 and his laicization is currently pending. William Lane, who previously served at St. Chalres Catholic Church in Gainsville, was also named, but died in 1968.
There are more than 1,300 catholic parishes across the state and an estimated 8.5 million Catholics living in Texas. The Catholic Diocese of Dallas has encouraged all victims of clergy sexual abuse to contact local law enforcement, call the Texas Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400 or visit www.txabusehotline.org.
A recent review by the Associated Press found that in the past four months, Catholic dioceses across the U.S. have released the names of more than 1,000 priests and others accused of sexually abusing children.
The Dallas Morning News reported the diocese of Fort Worth has been releasing names of credibly accused clergy since 2007 on its website and had no new ones to reveal Thursday, spokesman Pat Svacina said.