NewsCovering Kern County

Actions

Priest and former McFarland student athlete facing misconduct allegations

Posted at 6:34 PM, May 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-23 01:22:03-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A priest who is also a former McFarland High School student athlete is now facing sexual misconduct allegations according to the Diocese of Fresno.

According to Dinuba Police Department officials received an anonymous tip from a community member that alleged Father Raul Diaz of St. Catherine in Dinuba was inappropriate with minors.

Bishop Brennan of the Diocese of Fresno delivered the following statement at all Masses at St. Catherine in Dinuba this past weekend:

“It is my responsibility as your Bishop to inform you that I have placed Father Raul Diaz, Pastor of St. Catherine Siena, on “Paid Administrative Leave” effective as of May 17, 2019. This action follows notification that law enforcement has received a report alleging Father Diaz has engaged in inappropriate behavior that may include inappropriate contact with minors.


At this time, this is only a precautionary measure. I ask that you keep this matter in prayer for all involved. If you have any concerns related to Fr. Diaz that you believe may be relevant to law enforcement’s investigation please contact Dinuba Police Department.”

On Wednesday, May 22, 23ABC learned Diaz previously attended McFarland High School where he ran cross country.

Jim White, who was the former McFarland cross country coach would not go on camera, but told 23ABC that Diaz was a junior varsity sprinter at McFarland in the '80s and was not on the team that inspired the 2015 Disney film, "McFarland USA," starring Kevin Costner.

The plot of the 2015 film centers around the varsity McFarland High School cross country team who won a state championship.
White told 23ABC that he was shocked that Diaz was now facing allegations involving misconduct with minors.

He said Diaz was always a hard worker and he knew early on that he wanted to be a priest one day.

White also confirmed that Diaz is not in anyway related to former disgraced Bakersfield Police Officer Damacio Diaz or any of his brothers who were also on the McFarland team with Raul Diaz.

The details of the alleged misconduct have not been released at this point and the investigation is still ongoing.