Third Suit against Former Ontario Priest Moving Forward
By Lori Fowler
February 12, 2014
While two lawsuits were recently settled by the Diocese of San Bernardino regarding alleged sexual abuse by a former pastor, a third lawsuit continues to move through the court system.
Pasadena-based attorney Anthony De Marco filed a lawsuit in 2012 on behalf of his client. They are suing the Roman Catholic Bishop of San Bernardino and Alejandro “Alex” Castillo, among other parties, claiming that sexual abuse by Castillo occurred as far back as the 1970s — and the church knew about it.
“This is a very compelling case,” De Marco said. “The proof will be unmasked as we go forward.”
Officials at the diocese, which covers San Bernardino and Riverside counties, announced this week that they previously settled two civil suits, filed in 2011, for $3.8 million.
But De Marco said there are no current plans to settle their case.
Parties are scheduled to be back in West Valley Superior Court in Rancho Cucamonga on May 5. The trial could start later that month, De Marco said.
The 2012 lawsuit claims that the church knew Castillo was a child molester and received complaints that he abused others.
De Marco said the diocese found out in 1989 about reports of inappropriate behavior between Castillo and young boys.
“They didn’t report anything, they just moved him around. That’s based on (interviews) of their people: nun, priests,” De Marco said.
“It is very clear that this information went all the way to the top.”
The lawsuit also claims that De Marco’s client was molested by Castillo in the early 2000s, when he was a teenager. The victim is now in his mid-20s, De Marco said.
The victim alleged that Castillo would isolate him from adults and children and sexually abuse him.
John Andrews, spokesman for the Diocese of San Bernardino, declined to comment on the lawsuit “because it is a matter of ongoing litigation.”
Castillo was arrested by Ontario police in 2010 on suspicion of molesting a 12-year-old boy. At the time, police believed there were at least four other victims. The abuse occurred as early as 2000 when Castillo worked at a church in Rialto, police said.
Charges were not filed in connection with the four other victims due to insufficient evidence or because the alleged crimes occurred beyond the statute of limitations, authorities said.
Castillo pleaded no contest to committing a lewd act with a child as part of a plea agreement in August 2011 and was sentenced to a year in jail. He served eight months and was released in April 2012. As a condition of his release, he registered as a sex offender.
Castillo worked as a priest at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Ontario from 2003 to 2010. He resigned from the Ontario church after he was released on bail.
Castillo was a priest at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Rialto for three years before moving to Our Lady of Guadalupe in 2003. He also served as priest at St. George in Ontario from 2006 to 2008. Castillo joined the San Bernardino Diocese in 1988, serving with St. Anthony Parish in San Bernardino.
From 1991 to 1996, Castillo worked in the diocese’s Pastoral Center in Ministry.