Oakland Diocese Moves Toward Publishing Sex Offender List as New Allegations Surface

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The Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland. (Rachael Myrow/KQED)

After a lengthy delay, the Diocese of Oakland says it is getting closer to releasing a list of priests credibly accused of sexual misconduct.

Professing a commitment to protect children, Bishop Michael Barber wrote in a blog post for the Catholic Voice website, published on Oct. 8, 2018, that he planned to release the list within 45 days.

"Over the years, we have been continually revising and improving our accountability process, reinforcing our commitment to protect children, utilizing background checks and mandatory safe environment training for all church employees and volunteers," wrote Barber. "I have instructed my staff to prioritize this work while also recognizing the importance of making the list as accurate as possible."

It has been more than three months since Barber wrote the post.

Stephen Wilcox, the Oakland Diocese chancellor and victims assistance coordinator, said Barber's time frame was too aggressive.

"It's a complicated process," Wilcox said. "There's a lot of files to go through. And we committed to a pretty big task."

Dan McNevin, a spokesman for the national support organization Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called Barber’s delay a "cover-up."

"I now believe he delayed it because this case was perking along," McNevin said. "He didn't want to expose it."

The case in question centers on new allegations that surfaced this week against an East Bay priest. The Oakland Diocese has placed the Rev. Alex Castillo on administrative leave as it investigates allegations of sexual misconduct involving a minor. Castillo was ordained in 2011 and has served at parishes in Oakley and Fremont.

Wilcox said the Oakland Diocese reported the case to the Oakland Police Department after the victim came forward during the past month. But in an email, a police department spokeswoman said the Special Victims Unit has no report of the sexual assault allegation.

Wilcox said the Oakland Diocese hopes to release the list of priests credibly accused of sexual misconduct in the next couple of weeks.

Other Bay Area Catholic churches have been quicker to release similar lists. The Diocese of Santa Rosa released its list of 39 members of the clergy, who church leaders say committed child sexual abuse or were credibly accused of doing so, in January. Monterey and San Jose have also released lists.

McNevin said he's skeptical of the Roman Catholic Church's "self-reporting" efforts when it comes to outing child sex abusers in its midst.

McNevin said his group, SNAP, identified 18 allegedly abusive priests in addition to the 30 listed by the Diocese of Monterey. There were at least 10 more identified in addition to the Diocese of Santa Rosa's list of 39 alleged abusers. In San Jose, more than 30 alleged abusers were identified, compared with that diocese's list of 15.

San Francisco resident Melinda Costello, who was abused by a Fremont priest in the 1970s for a year when she was in second grade, said the church has been slow as a whole to react to charges of sexual abuse.

"There have been changes, but they're minute. And they're not consistent," said Costello. "They might move somebody away from children, perhaps. But they don't make it stop. They don't keep children out of harm's way."

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