Priest Wins Reduced Bail

By Will Bigham
Contra Costa Times
November 2, 2010

RANCHO CUCAMONGA - A judge low ered bail Monday for an Ontario Catholic priest charged with molesting a 12-year-old boy in his parish from $1 million to $300,000. If released on bail, 57-year-old Jose Alejandro Castillo must surrender his passport and wear a GPS tracking device.

He will be prohibited from contacting minors and must stay in a home in Banning that he can only leave between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., Judge Donald G. Umhofer said in making his ruling in West Valley Superior Court. Umhofer's ruling was made over the objections of prosecutors, who asked that bail be set at $750,000. Prosecutors described Castillo as a flight risk with family ties to Mexico, as well as a potential threat to children.

Castillo, a priest for seven years at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Ontario, was arrested and charged last week with eight felony counts of committing lewd or lascivious acts two years ago with a 12-year-old boy.

Castillo's attorney, Mike Scafiddi, was reluctant to comment to reporters after the hearing, except to say that Castillo is innocent.

Scafiddi declined to say when Castillo might post bail. Online booking records from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department showed Castillo remained in custody late Monday at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga.

Deputy District Attorney Karen Schmauss, the prosecutor assigned to Castillo's case, said she believes the priest's parishioners are supplying bail for Castillo.

Schmauss said that during a meeting in Umhofer's chambers before Monday's hearing, Scafiddi said Castillo would probably resign from his position as a priest, which he has held for 29 years.

"He's not going to do any priestly duties" if he posts bail, Schmauss said.

The prosecutor said four other parishioners besides the 12-year-old boy have reported having sexual contact with Castillo.

Castillo is next due in court Dec. 8


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