DALLAS — The Dallas Catholic Diocese has added a new name to its list of clergy members credibly accused of sexual abuse of children.
The diocese, embroiled in scrutiny over its handling of past sexual abuse allegations, posted on its website over the weekend that Peter Barusseau was accused of abusing a minor while serving in North Texas. The diocese’s short news item says the alleged abuse occurred in 1960. Diocese leaders did not release any further details about the alleged abuse.
According to church records, Barusseau substituted for other priests from 1960-61 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Denton, St. Anthony in Dallas and St. Mary in Sherman.
Born in 1909, Barusseau is believed to be dead, but the diocese is attempting to confirm his date of death with his home diocese in France.
The diocese first released its list of 31 credibly accused clergy — both living and dead — on Jan. 31. The list was part of a joint transparency effort by all Texas dioceses. Combined, those lists included nearly 300 names of clergy members who have been “credibly accused” of sexual abuse of children since 1950.
The lists’ release came as the Catholic Church in Dallas and around the world has come under increasing pressure to address the ongoing sexual abuse crisis.
The Dallas Diocese drew national attention in August after it disclosed that Edmundo Paredes, a former longtime priest at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Oak Cliff, had been credibly accused of molesting three teenage boys in the parish over a decade ago.
Paredes, whose name was on the diocese’s list, fled Dallas almost a year ago and is believed to be living in his native Philippines.
In light of the Paredes case, the Dallas Police Department assigned a detective full time to Catholic sex-abuse allegations.
And in May, Dallas police raided Dallas Catholic Diocese offices after Detective David Clark said church officials had “thwarted” his investigations into allegations of sexual abuse by priests. In an arrest warrant affidavit, Clark detailed ways in which he believed the diocese wasn’t forthcoming or thorough in its investigative efforts.
After police seized files on priests from its offices and a storage unit, the diocese released a scathing statement condemning Dallas police for choosing “the sensational action of conducting this unnecessary raid.”
Police were notified of the allegation against Barusseau, and the Diocesan Review Board — a team of laypeople who review complaints against priests — evaluated the charge and recommended to Bishop Edward Burns that Barusseau be added to the list of names.
Afterward, Burns said in a written statement that he urged “anyone who was the victim of abuse to come forward because, as promised in January, we will continue to update this list as needed.”
“Our diocese continues to cooperate with law enforcement as they investigate outstanding allegations and remain committed to creating a safe environment throughout the diocese,” he said.