A California priest was convicted Monday of sexually assaulting a seminarian. After his conviction, Fr. Juan Garcia Castillo will be listed on California’s sex offender registry, and could face up to six months of incarceration.
During a week-long trial, the San Diego seminarian assaulted by Castillo testified that the priest approached him Feb. 4 in a restaurant bathroom and groped his genitals twice.
The assault followed a night in which Castillo took two seminarians to a bar and restaurant after an event at St. Patrick’s Parish in Carlsbad, where the priest served as parochial vicar. The seminarian said they had several drinks, and that Castillo encouraged him to drink to excess.
The seminarian testified that he went to the bathroom sick after midnight, and that Castillo approach him from behind and groped him.
In September, a spokesman for the Diocese of San Diego told CNA that the diocese had not publicly commented on the allegations because “we need to see what happens to the criminal case because the issue of consent is so important and if it’s not clear, we wait for that to get made clear.”
A jury decided Dec. 17 that Castillo’s contact constituted misdemeanor sexual battery. He is expected to be sentenced within a month.
Castillo, who is also known as Juan Gabriel Castillo, is a member of the Congregation of Jesus and Mary, a religious community of priests also known as the Eudists. The priest, 35, was born in Honduras, and in 2011 was ordained a priest at St. Patrick’s Parish by Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa.
In a statement released Monday afternoon, Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Diego said that “upon reviewing the facts regarding the allegation of sexual assault against Father Castillo, the diocese of San Diego removed him from ministry in the diocese immediately and permanently.”
Full story at Catholic News Agency.