Priest Sentenced for Lewd Act on Child

By Will Bigham
San Bernardino Sun
August 31, 2011

RANCHO CUCAMONGA -- A priest on Wednesday was sentenced to a year in jail and taken into custody for committing lewd sexual acts with a 12-year-old boy in his Ontario parish.

Father Alejandro Castillo, 58, was convicted in April of a felony count of committing a lewd act on a child. He pleaded no contest as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors that carried a sentence of a year in jail.

That sentence was imposed Wednesday in West Valley Superior Court by Judge Jon Ferguson.

"To say you took advantage of a position of trust is an understatement," Ferguson said.

Castillo was pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Ontario until mid-2010, after allegations of sexual abuse surfaced.

The allegations against Castillo are detailed in a sentencing report from the San Bernardino County Probation Department. The report was made public after Castillo's sentencing.

According to the report, five of Castillo's former parishioners have accused him of sexual misconduct, with the oldest alleged abuse occurring in 2000, when Castillo worked at a church in Rialto.

Prosecutors filed criminal charges against Castillo last year in connection with one alleged victim -- a 12-year-old boy from Ontario who said he was abused in late 2008, according to the report.

Criminal charges were not filed in connection with the other four alleged victims -- who include the 12-year-old boy's 16-year-old brother -- due to insufficient evidence or because the allegations are too old, Deputy District Attorney Karen Schmauss said.

The 12-year-old boy said that during overnight stays with Castillo at the church, Castillo touched the boy's genitals and forced the boy to touch Castillo's genitals, according to the report.

The boy said he would share a bed with Castillo during the overnight stays, the report says.

"We trusted Alex with our boys for many years, and he held them in his arms when they were babies," the boys' parents wrote in a statement that was read aloud in court.

"He was not only a spiritual leader but a father, family member, and most importantly a friend. We thought it was a dream, and then understood it was not."

Castillo did not speak during the hearing. In comments to authorities after his plea, he said he was felt ashamed and "unworthy with God," though he denied his abusive conduct was as extensive as alleged, according to the report.

A probation officer concluded in his report that Castillo "still does not seem to understand the seriousness of his behavior and the extent to which his actions harmed the victim."

In addition to sentencing Castillo to a year in jail, Judge Ferguson placed him on probation for three years and told him he must register as a sex offender for life.

Castillo, who had been free on bail since November, was taken into custody at the end of the hearing.

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