Inland: Child-Molester Priest Arrested for Probation Violation

By David Olson
The Press-Enterprise
May 9, 2012

The Rev. Alejandro "Alex" Jose Castillo

Officials say he was arrested on a probation violation but won't disclose details; children may have been at a party given for him

An Ontario priest recently released from jail after serving time for child molestation was arrested Wednesday, May 9, for allegedly violating his probation.

The Rev. Alejandro "Alex" Jose Castillo was taken into custody at 11:35 a.m. at his Ontario residence by officers with the San Bernardino County Probation Department, probation spokesman Chris Condon said.

Castillo, 59, had been released April 21 after serving nearly eight months in West Valley Detention Center for molesting a 12-year-old boy from his Ontario parish.

He was back in the Rancho Cucamonga jail Wednesday afternoon, said Cindy Bachman, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Department. There was no bail set, she said.

If Castillo is found guilty of the probation violation, he could face up to eight years in prison, Condon said. He declined to say what the alleged violation was, because the investigation is ongoing.

Castillo's San Bernardino attorney, Michael Scafiddi, said Wednesday afternoon he had not yet spoken with the priest. But he said two supporters of Castillo who witnessed the arrest said it stemmed from his attendance at a party in his honor.

The April 22 party in an Ontario home celebrated Castillo's birthday and his release from jail, said Ted Campos, a longtime friend of Castillo's who believes the priest is innocent.

In an interview published Wednesday, Campos declined to say whether children were at the party. He said at least 100 people were at the party during the short time he was there.

Castillo's probation terms prohibit him from associating with males younger than 18 without the permission of his probation officer.

"If it can be proven he was a party with (male) children present, that would be a violation of his probation" unless he cleared it with his probation officer, said Karen Schmauss, the deputy district attorney who prosecuted Castillo.

Condon said he could not reveal whether Castillo's attendance at the party was a factor in his arrest.

But when asked whether Castillo had consulted with a probation officer before the party, Condon said, "The release was on a Saturday. The party occurred on a Sunday. The probation office doesn't open until Monday."

Condon said he did not know who Castillo was living with in Ontario.


The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino had been trying since Castillo's release to meet with him, to help him comply with the terms of his probation and protect children, said diocesan spokesman John Andrews.

"We're very disappointed and disturbed by the news Father Castillo has been arrested," he said. "He did not honor his agreement he made when he was incarcerated that he would meet with us upon his release."

Despite Castillo's conviction, the diocese is responsible for Castillo's food and shelter and wanted to discuss the priest's living arrangements, Andrews said.

Bishop Gerald Barnes has permanently barred Castillo from performing public ministry within the diocese, Andrews said. The Vatican is still determining whether to strip Castillo of his priesthood, he said.

Joelle Casteix, western regional director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said the diocese should have notified the public of Castillo's release and educated his supporters of the danger the priest still poses to children. Sexually abusive clergy are typically manipulative and maintain the trust of many of their parishioners, even after arrest and conviction, she said.

Andrews said the diocese wanted to find out the priest's whereabouts and meet with him before disclosing his release.

Castillo served fewer than eight months of a 1-year sentence. He pleaded guilty to lewd and lascivious acts with a child younger than 14, one of the eight felony charges against him. The plea agreement was reached after the victim's parents said they wanted to spare him and his brother who also says he was molested from testifying in court. Castillo could have faced 22 years in prison if convicted on all eight counts.

Casteix said Castillo's alleged probation violation means he finally may serve years in prison rather than the months she considers inadequate punishment for a crime as severe as child molestation.

"I'm tremendously relieved he's behind bars," she said. "But I'm upset children were put at risk at that party.

"The fact he went to a party, possibly full of children, shows he has no sense of responsibility for what he did, that he has no shame for what he did."



Any original material on these pages is copyright 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.