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Diocese of San Bernardino Sued in Clergy Abuse Case

This week, the parents of a 12-year-old boy allegedly molested by a former Ontario, CA priest filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of San Bernardino, stating that clergy members covered up past sexual abuse and predatory behavior.

September 22, 2011 – This week, the parents of a 12-year-old boy allegedly molested by a former Ontario, CA priest filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of San Bernardino, stating that clergy members covered up past sexual abuse and predatory behavior. According to the family’s attorney, the diocese had long known Rev. Alejandro “Alex” Jose Castillo had had problems with sexual abuse, but that they failed to pass this information along to parishioners. Last month, Castillo was sentenced to a year in jail for molesting the boy in late 2008.

Clergy Abuse Update 5/25/12: This week, thousands of documents concerning nine Roman Catholic priests who settled a landmark clergy abuse lawsuit in 2006 were made public. The newly-released files provide a detailed look into the accusations, as well as reveal instances when members of the clergy were allowed to interact with children despite their superiors being aware of previous indiscretions. Click here to learn more.

Free Clergy Abuse Suit Evaluation:If you or a loved one has been abused or molested by a priest or other member of the church, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit and we can help.

What’s the problem?

In addition to the new suit, a separate lawsuit was filed on behalf of the victim’s then-16-year-old brother, who also claims to have been molested by Castillo. Prosecutors were unable to bring charges in that case because the statute of limitations had expired, as it had for at least three other boys allegedly abused by the former reverend.

The new lawsuit names:

  • The Diocese of San Bernardino
  • Rev. Alejandro “Alex” Jose Castillo
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe parish in Ontario
  • Monsignor Gerard Lopez, the vicar who has been accused of lying to the victim’s parents when he allegedly told them that Castillo had never previously been accused of molestation.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, and claims that, because of the abuse, the boys have been perpetually plagued with depression, anxiety, nightmares, shame, problems in school and difficulty with intimate relationships. The molestation allegedly occurred in late 2008 in Castillo’s home and car.

According to the suit, the diocese and parish were aware of “Father Castillo’s dangerous propensities and tendencies as a child molester, sexual harasser and sexual abuser” before the boys were abused, but took no action to stop it. The lawsuits claims there was a “tolerance and culture of sexual abuse” prevalent in the diocese.

The parents of the victims agreed to plea bargain for a year in jail so their son would be spared the embarrassment of testifying in the case. If the deal hadn’t been struck, Castillo could have faced up to 22 years if found guilty on all eight counts.

A statement issued this week by the diocese of San Bernardino stated, “Given our well-documented commitment to protect children from abuse through both policy and action, it is disappointing to be named in these lawsuits. We continue to offer our prayers to all victims of sexual abuse that they receive God’s healing presence and His grace in their lives,” the statement said. “We continue to commit ourselves to preventing the terrible sin of abuse in our families, our communities and in society as a whole.”

John Manly, an attorney for the parents of the victims, stated that he was surprised that the church’s alleged cover-ups occurred in the wake of the controversy surrounding clergy abuse lawsuits.

“Despite all the promises, the dioceses really haven’t dealt with these issues and haven’t gotten rid of the bad apples who prey on children,” he said.

To date, the diocese of San Bernardino has paid out more than $20 million to settle clergy abuse lawsuits since it opened in 1978.

Want to learn more? Click here if you’d like additional information about clergy abuse from Schmidt & Clark, LLP.

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The Clergy Abuse Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in clergy abuse lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new abuse and molestation cases in all 50 states.

Free Clergy Abuse Lawsuit Case Evaluation:If you or a loved one has been abused or molested by a priest or other member of the church, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit and we can help.

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