An recent op-ed authored by Martha Escutia discussed the case of Fr. Alejandro Castillo, a priest at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Ontario, California accused of abusing a minor parishioner. The case of Fr. Castillo now reads as an eerily familiar pattern of failure in properly handling credibly accused priests among clergy and an avoidance of the justice system. News released yesterday announced that Castillo, charged with molesting a 12-year-old minor parishioner, won a reduced bail, from $1 million down to $300,000. Prosecutors argued in vain to the judge that Castillo is a flight risk, as he has family in Mexico, and still poses a danger to children. While ensuring that Castillo has the right to a jury of his peers and is entitled to a full, impartial treatment in the criminal judicial system, the courts must also ensure that other kids are kept safe from known child abusers. Just as Castillo is a flight risk, numerous priests have been transferred globally with the aid of the catholic hierarchy after being credibly accused of abusing children, and Fr. Nicolas Aguilar is just one example. Aguilar abused kids in Mexico, was shipped to Los Angeles where he abused at least 26 other kids, before being sent back to Mexico, evading law enforcement and justice.
In the case of Castillo, the judge did order Castillo surrender his passport and wear a GPS tracking device should he post bail and be released. While we praise the precautionary measures that the judge ordered in the case that Castillo is released, we concur with SNAP that those measures are a far cry from being sufficient to protect other kids. Castillo is a serious and dangerous threat to the safety of our children. He has been credibly accused of molesting five children who were parishioners at Our Lady of Guadalupe. The decision to reduce Castillo’s bail fails to take into account the extreme danger that a credibly accused offender poses to other kids. When offenders are on the loose, our kids are not protected.