PRESS CONFERENCE: Two clergy abuse & cover-up lawsuits filed

PRESS CONFERENCE: Two clergy abuse & cover-up lawsuits filed

  • They name recently convicted Ontario predator priest
  • Church officials didn’t tell police about crimes, victims say
  • Suit says now-jailed cleric spent 20 years abusing in Latino communities 


What: 
Holding signs and childhood photos, sex abuse victims will announce two new civil lawsuits against a recently convicted predator priest and his Catholic supervisors. Filed by two young brothers, the suits charge that:
 
- The priest had a 20-year history of predatory behavior, well known by San Bernardino church officials,
- He was intentionally placed in poor, Spanish speaking communities where children are less likely to report, and
- When church officials were informed of the abuse allegations in 2010, they refused to report the crimes to law enforcement.
 
When: 
Thursday, September 22 at 11:15 am

Where: 
Outside of Our Lady of Guadalupe school
710 S Sultana St. (corner of Mission)
Ontario, CA

Who: 
Two -  three victims of sexual abuse and their supporters who are members of a self-help group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPNetwork.org) and two attorneys for the victims (who are still children). SPANISH SPEAKERS WILL BE AVAILABLE.

Why:
Today, attorneys for two young boys filed sex abuse and cover-up lawsuits against the Diocese of San Bernardino and a recently convicted predator priest, Fr. Alejandro "Alex" Castillo.  In April, Castillo pleaded guilty to lewd acts with a child under the age of 14.  http://www.scpr.org/news/2011/04/26/26182/catholic-priest-ontario-pleads-guilty-child-sex-ab/.  The victim in the criminal case is one of the boys filing the suit.  The other child is his older brother.  Both are still children.
 
According to the lawsuit, church officials tried to discourage the parents from reporting Castillo's crimes to law enforcement, engaging in what the lawsuits call a "conspiracy of silence." Since the parents contacted law enforcement, at least five other victims have come forward.  
 
A few parishioners formed a group supporting Castillo and raising money for his bail.  Church officials, who knew of Castillo's predatory behavior, did nothing to reach out to the group and explain the insensitivity of their actions. https://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=102883609774233 
 
Castillo was sentenced to a year in jail and is currently serving the sentence.  http://www.insidesocal.com/sb/iecourts/2011/08/priest-sentenced-for-lewd-act.html.   According to the sentencing report, Castillo has little to no understanding of the severity of his crimes.
 
The lawsuit also says that Castillo knew the victims’ family for 20+ years and used his position as a priest to become a trusted friend with unlimited access to the children. San Bernardino church officials have known for years about Castillo's predatory behavior, yet let him work in a parish with a school and spend long amounts of time with families with young children, the suit maintains.
 
Castillo's victims are represented by Newport Beach attorney John Manly (949) 689-7895, jmanly@manlystewart; and Los Angeles attorney Martha Escutia (available for Spanish language interviews) (949) 209-9820mescutia@thesenatorsfirm.com.  Copies of the lawsuit will be available at the event.
 
Contact:
Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach, SNAP Western Regional Director, (949) 322-7434jcasteix@gmail.com
Barb Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP Outreach Director, (314) 503-0003, snapdorris@gmail.com

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