Priest's Alleged Victims Ready Civil Lawsuits

By Will Bigham
Contra Costa Times
September 1, 2011

RANCHO CUCAMONGA - With Alejandro Castillo's criminal case concluding with his sentencing Wednesday, his alleged sexual abuse victims are turning their attention to civil court.

Two brothers who say Castillo molested them three years ago are preparing to file a lawsuit next week against the priest, the Ontario church he oversaw and the Diocese of San Bernardino, their attorney said.

A man who alleges Castillo abused him in Rialto in 2000 is also contemplating a lawsuit, his attorney said.

The Ontario brothers' attorney, Rebecca Rhoades, said the brothers' case will charge Castillo with sexual battery, sexual assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress, among other causes of action.

The diocese is included as a defendant because it was negligent in training and supervising Castillo, Rhoades alleges.

And after the boys' family reported the alleged abuse, "They feel like they got shut out by the diocese," Rhoades said.

Rhoades said she will file the case in West Valley Superior Court, though it will likely be transferred to a Los Angeles County judge responsible for hearing priest abuse cases, she said.

Castillo was first accused of molestation in 2008, by a man who said he was abused in Rialto in 2000 when he was 18. Castillo was accused again in 2008 or 2009 by a man who later withdrew his accusation.

Both allegations were deemed unfounded by an independent review board in the diocese, though a monsignor ordered Castillo to be trained "regarding establishing healthy boundaries with persons he ministers to," Castillo's probation report said.

"I'm not going to say whether we share the blame or not," diocese spokesman John Andrews said. "I know we have taken a lot of steps since 2002 to protect children in our policies and our training, and to make sure this is something that's emphasized."

"Unfortunately taking those kinds of steps and being consistent and vigilant about it doesn't mean these terrible and sinful things can't happen," Andrews said.

Andrews said that when the diocese learned last year of the Ontario boys' abuse allegations, Castillo was suspended.

Andrews said the diocese paid transportation and lodging costs for a therapist from Mexico who the boys' family requested for counseling. The family turned down other offers of assistance from the diocese, Andrews said.

"We're very saddened at the very sinful and criminal acts that Father Castillo admitted in his guilty pleas," Andrews said. "We believe the sexual abuse of a child goes against the fundamental teachings of the Catholic faith, not to mention the policies that we have in place in the diocese."

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