NorCal Clergyman Accused of Molestation, SNAP Reacts

A priest from the Diocese of Oakland was arrested on Friday by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office on 30 counts of child sexual abuse.

Fr. David Mendoza-Vela, a native of El Salvador, was working at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Fremont at the time of his arrest, but the allegations arise from an 18 month period beginning in 2016 when the cleric was assigned to St. John’s Catholic Church in San Lorenzo.

We are concerned because we know that while 70% of child sex offenders have between one and 9 victims, 20% have 10 to 40 victims.  We also know that Hispanic communities are less likely to report rape/sexual assault, possibly due to language barriers and concerns about immigrant status.

However, the sooner victims come forward, the sooner they can begin healing

We urge parents in the Diocese of Oakland to speak with their children and teenagers about this arrest, as well as the accusation against Fr. Alexander Castillo, and let them know that it is safe to come forward if anyone has hurt them, that they will be believed and supported.

If you experienced, witnessed or suspected child sexual abuse in the Diocese, please contact law enforcement, not the Church. You can also reach out to groups like ours for help as you come forward.

Abuse thrives when otherwise moral, good people say nothing.

SNAP believes that there are 135 abusive priests with ties to Oakland, not just the 45 named by the Diocese. Neither Fr. Mendoza-Vela nor Fr. Castillo were on the Diocesan list. 

Fr. Castillo, a native of Costa Rica, has fled the country.

CONTACT: Dan McNevin, [email protected], 415-341-6417; Joey Piscitelli, [email protected], 925-262-3699; Melanie Sakoda,[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

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant