A priest from Kern County who was accused of inappropriately touching two children will not be charged by the Tulare District Attorney's office despite a recommendation by Dinuba police investigators.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Daniel Underwood declined Monday to say why the office opted not to file charges against the Rev. Raul Diaz, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Church in Dinuba. But he noted the statute of limitations was not a deciding factor.
Diaz, a native of McFarland, will remain on suspension while the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno investigates the accusations against him, Bishop Joseph V. Brennan told parishioners of St. Catherine's on July 20, according to a written statement the diocese provided Monday.
"The findings will then be presented to the Diocesan Review Board to make recommendations to the bishop," Brennan said, according to the statement. "Until these steps are completed, no further public comment will be made."
Dinuba Police Department officials said the agency received an anonymous report in mid-May that Diaz recently touched a minor in an inappropriate way. They soon identified two alleged victims, ages 9 and 11.
"From our perspective, there was enough for us to file it with the D.A.'s office, but it was the D.A.'s opinion that it was not enough to corroborate and file charges," Detective Sgt. Eric Trevino said.
Underwood, with the D.A.'s office, said the police department submitted a case to the district attorney's office on July 1. He said the D.A.'s office decided exactly two weeks later not to file charges against Diaz.
The police department then relayed the district attorney's decision to the diocese on July 17, according to the diocese's written statement.
The Visalia Times-Delta has reported Diaz was a 1987 graduate of McFarland High School and a member of its famed cross-country running team, which was the subject of the 2015 Disney movie "McFarland, USA."
Diaz is among at least 16 priests with Kern County connections to have been accused of sexual abuse, according to a recent report released by the Los Angeles law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates. The alleged abusers — at least three of whom are now dead — were among 43 clergymen with some association with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno.