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Officials Charge Retired Priest In Sexual Assault

Oct 5, 2002 | Amarillo Globe-News

Officials are looking for children who may have been molested after the Friday arrest of a 73-year-old retired priest who served at churches in Silverton, Quitaque, Turkey and Memphis.

Retired priest Edward R. Graff was arrested at his home in Quitaque on Friday and booked into the Swisher County Jail in Tulia on a charge of sexual assault of a child, according to a Department of Public Safety news release.

Graff was being held in the Swisher County Jail late Friday on $75,000 bond.

Texas Ranger Jay Foster said he was unable to detail the case against Graff because the investigation is ongoing. He did say authorities have been looking into the priest's actions after he retired this summer.

Graff joined the Diocese of Amarillo in 1992 and was parochial administrator of Our Lady of Loreto Church in Silverton. He also was on the pastoral team for St. Elizabeth Seton Church in Turkey and St. Juan Diego Center in Quitaque. He also served in Memphis.

Nine priests have resigned from the Diocese of Amarillo this year, some because of the new sexual-abuse policy.

Graff resigned from the diocese in July shortly after a "zero-tolerance" policy on molestation was instituted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Diocese of Amarillo had little comment Friday, other than a brief statement from Bishop John W. Yanta that reiterated Graff's stated reasons for leaving.

"He was never incardinated in the Diocese of Amarillo and chose to retire from ministry in this diocese in July 2002 because of advanced age and poor health," Yanta said in a news release.

Bishop Leroy T. Matthiesen, bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Amarillo, said at the time of Graff's resignation that he "was not accused of anything with sexual abuse."

Foster would not say what led authorities to begin their investigation of Graff or when the alleged molestation took place, although the incident was "recent."

The investigation of Graff will continue, but authorities are mostly in need of help from parents of potential victims, Foster said.

"The big thing we're wanting to stress is we believe that other victims are out there," Foster said. "It seems to be boys in the young teen-age range we're going to be looking for. Teen-age boys who have either visited his house, done chores for him or stayed overnight with him; those parents should talk to their children to see if anything happened."

Foster said experts in molestation cases recommend that parents be direct and ask up-front questions of their children while maintaining an understanding demeanor.

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