DINUBA, Calif. — A priest who was a member of the McFarland cross country program, later featured in the 2015 movie 'McFarland, USA,' has been placed on administrative leave following allegations of inappropriate behavior with minors.
According to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno, Father Raul Diaz, Pastor of St. Catherine Siena in Dinuba, was placed on Paid Administrative Leave effective May 17. The Diocese says law enforcement received a report alleging Father Diaz engaged in inappropriate behavior that may include inappropriate contact with minors.
According to Jim White, who coached the cross country team and was profiled in the movie 'McFarland, USA,' Diaz was a part of the program but was not a part of the state championship team.
Bishop Joseph V. Brennan of the Diocese of Fresno released this statement:
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.
A member of the state championship team and former Bakersfield Police detective, Damacio Diaz, who was portrayed in the movie, pleaded guilty in 2016 to bribery, possession and attempted possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, and making and subscribing a false income tax return. He was sentenced to five years in prison.
According to Jim White, Father Raul Diaz and Damacio Diaz are not related.