Sacramento Diocese Sued for Sending Predator Priest to Mexico

News: US News
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by Rodney Pelletier  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  October 16, 2019   

Accused of covering for alleged homosexual predator

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A new lawsuit is accusing the diocese of Sacramento for sending an alleged homosexual predator priest to Mexico, knowing of credible accusations of abuse against him in California.

The lawsuit is being filed on behalf of Juan Ricardo Torres who asserts he was sexually abused by Fr. Jose Antonio Pinal Castellanos in 1983.

Castellanos is a Mexican priest who was ordained as a priest of the diocese of Sacramento in 1980 and spent part of his time at Sacred Heart parish in Gridley, California. He has been accused of committing at least five acts of sex abuse between 1981 and 1989, one act against a male under the age of 14, three against males under the age of 18 and one against a female under the age of 18.

Torres and his parents reported the abuse to the pastor in 1989, and after meeting with a Sacramento diocese lawyer, they were assured Castellanos would be kept away from children and that additionally the diocese would pay for therapy for the sexually-abused Torres. 

Torres says in his lawsuit that Sacramento bishop Francis Quinn approved Castellanos' request to transfer to Mexico after making "admissions" in a 1991 letter asking to return to the United States. He alleges the move was dependent on the diocese of Cuernavaca in Mexico assuming "full responsibility" for Castellanos. Quinn was the bishop of Sacramento from 1979 to 1993 and died in March 2019.

In April, the diocese of Sacramento named 49 priests and deacons who were credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 130 underage victims. Castellanos is named on the list. 

In 2002, after the Boston Globe broke open the news of the massive coverup of sex abuse, the diocese of Sacramento forwarded Castellano's letter to state law officials. 

Sacramento's archbishop Jaime Soto responded in a letter that he was "ashamed" and called it "a grave failure of judgment and a betrayal of trust," adding, "The safety of children is our highest priority. In 1989 those in leadership failed to do so. I must own and atone for this."

Torres' lawyer, Joseph George, slammed the diocese for covering for Castellanos, commenting, "The difference here is that we have a letter in July 1989, the same year, 30 years ago where they're cutting a deal to allow him to be ordained in diocese in Cuernevaca. Is that truthful? That's not transparent."

Prominent clerical sex abuse researcher Richard Sipe commented in 2007:

The problem of foreign born or educated priests who come to the United States and subsequently abuse minors is and has been a problem for the American church. Some of the clergy coming to the U.S. have abused prior to their service in dioceses here and also continue to abuse after they flee the U.S., often for [sic] their native country.

Sipe also noted, "These transfers are one of many ways in which global Catholicism affects the abuse crisis in the United States."

The state of California extended the statute of limitations for sex abuse on October 14 for an additional three years.

Soto was accused in August of covering up for homosexual sex abuse in 2005 when he was auxiliary bishop of Orange, California.

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