Father Alex Castillo was placed on administrative leave Jan. 31 by the diocese, which said it had received an allegation of inappropriate behavior from a male victim, diocese officials confirmed Monday.
Church officials were in touch with Castillo until Feb. 21, when several people attempted to contact him unsuccessfully, said Helen Osman, a diocese spokeswoman. She said the diocese had to check every jail and hospital in the area before they could report him missing Feb. 23.
Less than a week later, he was apparently located by police. Oakland police on Friday informed church officials that Castillo had been “found” but would not confirm where, Osman said.
“They would not provide us with information on his whereabouts, except that he has left the country,” she said. “They also informed us they have completed their criminal investigation.”
Church and law enforcement officials have not released other details about the alleged sexual misconduct. Castillo remains on leave and may not present himself as a priest or work as a priest in a public ministry, church officials said.
“It should be noted during this investigation so far, it has not been determined any crimes have been committed in the City of Oakland,” said Johnna Watson, an Oakland police spokeswoman.
The case is now being handled by the Alameda County district attorney’s office, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A diocesan review board will include criminal justice experts, mental health advocates and two diocese officials to re-evaluate Castillo’s suitability for ministry and present their findings to Bishop Michael Barber.
Osman did not have a timeline for when Barber would make a final decision on Castillo’s eligibility to return to the church.
Advocates for clergy sexual-abuse survivors accused the diocese Monday of violating mandatory-reporting laws and not doing enough to support victims.
“The bishop and the district attorney need to ask victims to come forward,” said Dan Nevin, a spokesman for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. “Now is the time to advertise what happened, to inform victims that they’re not alone and their parents are not alone.”
Nevin called on Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley to disclose Castillo’s location and reveal more information about how long it took for the diocese to report the abuse to law enforcement.
“We also think the District Attorney needs to work with the California Attorney General and federal authorities to issue a warrant to get this guy back,” Nevin said.
Castillo was born in Costa Rica and worked at a software company before becoming a priest, according to the diocese. In 2008, he moved to the United States and completed his theological studies at Saint Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park.
Castillo previously worked in Oakley at Saint Anthony Parish and in Fremont at Our Lady of Guadalupe. Prior to his suspension, he taught at the Oakland Diocese’s Saint Junipero Serra Catechetical Institute and Escuela de Ministerios Pastorales.