$3.8 Million Settlement Announced in Inland Priest Abuse Case
By Richard Brooks
February 9, 2014
|Alejandro “Alex” Castillo, a now-defrocked priest, shown in his booking mug from his 2010 arrest. (FILE IMAGE)|
A $3.8 million settlement has ended two child-abuse lawsuits brought against a newly defrocked Catholic priest, though a third lawsuit lingers, parishioners were told during weekend Masses.
“The Diocese of San Bernardino has reached a settlement in … two civil cases involving allegations of sexual abuse of two separate minors by Alex Castillo,” Father Gerald O’Shaughnessy told hundreds of people Sunday at a 9 a.m. Mass at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Rialto. “The settlement of $3.8 million for both cases was paid through a combination of insurance and diocese resources.”
Alejandro “Alex” Castillo, now age 60, served eight months in jail after pleading guilty to lewd and lascivious acts involving a 12-year-old boy. As a result of that conviction, he is a registered sex offender. And parishioners were told that the Vatican recently ordered him permanently removed from the priesthood.
He served at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Ontario from 2003 to 2010 and at St. George parish in Ontario from 2006 to 2008.
Before that, Castillo was at St. Catherine’s in Rialto from 2000 to 2003, and at St. Anthony’s in San Bernardino in 1988 and 1989, church officials have said.
The announcement was made in each of those parishes during the reading of a letter from Bishop Gerald Barnes, head of the Diocese of San Bernardino, which serves Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
At least two priests and a spokesman for the diocese declined to release the letter. However, a shortened version of the statement was released publicly.
“The settlement was made in the interest of healing for the victims, their family and the local church, and the continued stability of diocesan ministries,” says the statement. “The diocese acknowledges and deeply regrets the sinful and unlawful actions of Castillo, while noting it took immediate action to remove him from ministry and notify police as soon as the allegations … were known.”
Two visits to Castillo’s home in Ontario this weekend failed to reach him for comment.
During the church announcement, parishioners were told that anyone who has been abused by church personnel should immediately report it to police. Detailed instructions for reporting such abuse are included in English and Spanish on the front page of the church bulletin at St. Catherine’s.
“We pledge our assistance to victims of abuse,” O’Shaunghnessy told the Rialto congregation.