Former priest arrested on charges of aggravated sexual assault of children

Richard Thomas Brown, 78, has been arrested in Dittmer, Missouri. [Image credit: Jefferson County Sheriffs Office]

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Last year the Dallas Catholic diocese provided officers with a list of 31 names of priests that were "credibly accused" of sexual assault ahead of a raid on the offices performed by law enforcement officers.  One of those names was Richard Thomas Brown.

 

On Tuesday the 28th a warrant was signed for his arrest on a single charge of aggravated sexual assault of a child.  Wednesday evening Brown was booked into jail in Jefferson County, Missouri after he was located on property owned by the Servants of the Paraclete in Dittmer, Missouri, about 30 miles southwest of Saint Louis.

 

The mission of the group which owns the property is to “provide a safe and supportive environment for the rehabilitation and reconciliation of priests and religious brothers.”  According to Dallas Morning News, six registered sex offenders share the address of the center.

 

Brown's status with the church is listed as "laicized" which means that he has been officially stripped of his status as priest.  Before he was removed though, he served at five different churches within Texas; Holy Family of Nazareth in Irving, Our Lady of the Lake in Rockwall, St. Mark the Evangelist in Plano and St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Philip, both in Dallas.

 

Brown received his ordination in 1980 and according to the affidavit, was moved from church to church as allegations of abuse surfaced until he was finally removed from the priesthood in 2002.  According to WFAA, he was officially defrocked just a few weeks ago.

 

According to the arrest warrant obtained by KXAS, Brown was contacted at an abbey in Pecos, New Mexico in May 2019 where he was going by "Father Peter" and interviewed by detectives. When asked by investigating officers if he had ever abused children, he named the complainant in the affidavit and went on to say that she would "sit on my lap ... and was aggressively all over me." He admitted to touching her through her clothing and said that "he didn't know why he did it."

 

When asked pointedly how many children he believed he abused over the years, Brown is said to have answered with "less than 10" but during that same interview, would continually "minimize his role in abusing several victims for over a decade" and would blame his advanced age and "deteriorating memory" for an inability to remember any other potential victims or instances of abuse.  He admitted though, to a period of time when he was "sexually attracted towards young girls."

 

After another allegation of abuse was brought forth to the Dallas Diocese, Brown was sent to speak with a psychologist in 1994.  That report, which investigating officers obtained, indicated that the Dr. Bridburg indicated that in his opinion, Brown had a "long history of pedophiliac behavior."  The report continued by stating that "the exact frequency and content of the behavior is difficult to ascertain due to the suspect's wish to minimize and portray himself in the best light possible."

 

“It should be noted,” Officer David Clark wrote in the affidavit, “Brown has not been investigated or prosecuted for any of his acts of sexual abuse against children.”

 

The affidavit further indicates that officers requested files from the Dallas diocese pertaining to Brown's transfers but that the diocesan attorney stated that the request was “overly broad, unnecessary and inappropriate."

 

As Brown has signed his extradition waiver, the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office has ten days to pick him up from Jackson County, Missouri.

 

The FBI is seeking to identify victims who were persuaded or coerced into a sexual act by a member of the clergy in North Texas between 1985 and the present. They are asking victims to go to https://www.fbi.gov/ntxclergyabuse and complete a confidential online questionnaire. Victims may also call 1-800-CALL-FBI to make a report. They may be contacted to provide additional information.

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