While Pastor Jose Alejandro Castillo had been removed from active ministry in June because family members told the Diocese of San Bernardino of allegations of child sexual abuse, it wasn’t until Monday that Ontario Police had enough evidence to arrest Castillo on criminal charges.
He was charged with eight counts of lewd and lascivious conduct over a three-month period in 2008 with a 12-year-old boy, the Los Angeles Times reports. The paper went on to note that:
Police determined there were three other victims — a 16-year-old boy at Our Lady of Guadalupe and two adults at other parishes — but declined to file charges because the statute of limitations for the crimes had expired.
Detectives also are investigating another alleged incident between Castillo and a 14-year-old boy while the priest was serving at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.
Investigators suspect there may be other victims and urge anyone with more information to contact Ontario Police Det. Mark Guski at (909) 395-2726.
The Catholic Church has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements over the past 10 years in cases involving sexual abuse by priests. It is a great tragedy that a small number of priests have taken advantage of their positions of respect and authority within the Church to victimize children.
To make matters worse, Church administrators have often failed to take appropriate action when faced with allegations of sexual abuse by priests. Rather than promptly reporting such abuse to law enforcement, as required by law, they have often tried to deal with these issues internally and have moved priests around to different parishes while failing to alert church members of the priests’ prior history of abuse.
It remains to be seen how many children Jose Castillo abused during his 22-year tenure with the Diocese of San Bernardino and what information the Diocese had regarding the abuse.