Oakland Priest Flees Justice, SNAP Urges Action by Diocese of Oakland and Alameda County Officials
For immediate release: March 4, 2019
An Oakland Diocese priest, Alexander Castillo, fled the United States after Oakland, California police opened a criminal investigation into allegations that he sexually abused at least one minor male.
Castillo was a “rising star” within the diocese. He last job was as a lead outreach coordinator for the Hispanic community diocese-wide. He operated at the right hand of Bishop Barber for much of the past five years. Among his duties was to evangelize among Spanish speaking populations in the Bay Area and in his native Costa Rica.
We hope that Bishop Barber cooperates with law enforcement to locate Castillo so that a full reckoning of what he did can be discerned.
Bishop Barber published a woefully inadequate list of “credibly accused” priests on February 18th, 2019. Despite the active criminal investigation focused on Castillo, Castillo was left off the list. Now that he has fled, Bishop Barber should, at a bare minimum, do the following:
- Add Castillo to the list, delineate his work assignments and overview his personal relationship with Castillo; SNAP has heard that Barber has mentored Castillo since Castillo’s time in seminary at St. Patrick’s, Menlo Park.
- Personally visit each parish Castillo served (Our Lady Guadalupe in Fremont, St. Anthony’s in Oakley) and beg all witnesses or other victims of this priest to come forward to law enforcement.
- Freeze Castillo’s paycheck and use the money to buy full page ads in major Bay Area newspapers asking victims and witnesses to come forward. The ads should be in Spanish and English and should emphasize that if victims are undocumented, they can obtain “U Visas” in connection with reporting any crimes committed against them.
At least 132 priests credibly accused of abusing minors have ties to the Oakland Diocese, including about half a dozen who still are working at the diocese despite’s the bishop’s “zero tolerance” pledge. SNAP provided that list of 132 to Barber on February 23rd. To make kids safer and to help survivors heal, we believe Bishop Barber should prominently display that list on the diocese website and provide law enforcement phone numbers for reporting abuse. In addition, SNAP believes Bishop Barber should publish the Attorney General’s website for reporting clergy abuse and beg witnesses and victims to register their concerns with the Attorney General.
SNAP has sent a letter to the District Attorney of Alameda County, urging DA Nancy O’Malley to compel Bishop Barber and his staff to cooperate in an investigation that fully explains the facts and circumstances regarding not only Castillo’s escape, but also the timeline related to when reports were made to law enforcement. If mandatory reporting laws were violated, we hope the DA will pursue appropriate sanctions against the Oakland Diocese and its officers, including the Bishop and Chancellor.
It is possible that evidence about Castillo and these crimes was destroyed in the time period between the abuse and its report to police. With Castillo gone, his testimony, conveniently, cannot be used to recreate the evidence trail.
The delay in reporting, Castillo’s flight, and the continued denial of the Oakland Diocese about the amount of abuse within its boundaries does nothing to make kids safer. Wherever Castillo is, kids there are in danger now. SNAP believes it is incumbent upon the Bishop of Oakland to do all within his power to ensure Castillo cannot hurt kids wherever he is now being harbored. That means Castillo should be defrocked, his crimes identified, and his name and photograph circulated to all Catholic Bishops and Cardinals, worldwide.
A copy of SNAP's letter to the DA, available here, was mailed on March 4.
CONTACT: Dan McNevin, SNAP California ([email protected], 415-341-6417), Joey Piscitelli, SNAP California ([email protected], 925-262-3699) Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Secretary ([email protected], 925-708-6175) Zach Hiner, 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)