Catholic Priest Charged with Sexual Battery, SNAP Calls for Action
We are very grateful to the survivors who have come forward to accuse Fr. Varghese “George” Alengadan of sexual assault and harassment. We also want to thank Alameda County DA Nancy O'Malley and her staff for investigating the allegations and filing charges. We believe that the only way to clean up the Catholic Church is for secular authorities to lead the charge.
Fr. Alengadan remains a powerful priest and we have no doubt that his influence and popularity may inhibit other victims from speaking up. We encourage any survivors and witnesses to contact law enforcement immediately. The DA's number is 510-272-6222. Reports can also be made to the California Attorney General's office.
The assault for which Fr. Alengadan is being charged would not have occurred had the Oakland Diocese responded appropriately to the 2002 report made by a young bride-to-be who was also assaulted by the clergyman. Inaction following allegations is all too common in the Catholic Church and is part of the "playbook" uncovered by the Grand Jury in Pennsylvania. Similar tactics were used across the bay at Presentation High School in San Jose. A recently issued report from Presentation laid bare abuse and cover-up at this school in the San Jose Diocese. The investigation spanned a period of 40 years, involved dozens of victims, and exposed five accused teachers and one accused coach.
There is much more for the Oakland Diocese to do in the case of Fr. Alengadan. The cleric was a close associate of Oakland's Bishop, serving on his personnel board and receiving a "priest of the year" award in 2017. We believe that honor was a slap in the face to survivors. In 2016 the Oakland Diocese received a second report about Fr. Alengadan 's 2002 assault on the bride-to-be, this time from her mother. That email was also ignored. To us, it almost seems that the award was meant to show the family that their reports meant nothing.
We call on Bishop Michael Barber of Oakland to do several things immediately:
First, the Bishop should rescind Fr. Alengadan 's award. Clerics who assault their parishioners should not be put on pedestals or honored in any way.
Second, Bishop Barber should start a list of priests who are accused of abusing adults within the Oakland Diocese. These men are dangerous and pose the same threat to health and sanity as those who abuse children. That list should include, at a minimum, the following names:
Fr. Alengadan, accused of sexual assault and harassment, 2002 through 2019
Fr. Michael Van Dinh, who was sued for sexual assault last year.
Fr Padraig Greene, who was arrested for lewd behavior in a park bathroom in 1999.
Fr. Fernando Sampaio, accused of possessing pornography in 2005 and removed from the Diocese.
Third, the Bishop should visit all the churches where Fr. Alengadan worked and beg other victims and witnesses to come forward.
Finally, there is no guarantee that Fr. Alengadan limited his assaults to those over the age of eighteen. There are countless examples of abusers that hurt both children and adults. Moreover, it is rare for minors to report abuse, even after a high profile priest has been criminally charged. We call on the DA and the Bishop to work together to identify as many victims as possible, and to not rule out the ugly possibility that Fr. Alengadan may have abused children as well.
Finally, we hope that Fr. Alengadan's position in the Diocese does not accord him any special treatment from the Church or the prosecutors. We ask the DA and the Bishop to tell us where the priest is currently living. Since he is not incarcerated, we hope that he does not flee the country, as Fr. Alexander Castillo did.
CONTACT: Dan McNevin, SNAP Board Member ([email protected], 415-341-6417), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator ([email protected], 925-708-6175) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org