Reader advisory: Some accounts of sexual assault in this story contain explicit details and strong language that some may find upsetting or objectionable.
Update, July 23, 2021:
Since this story was first published, several former parishioners who spoke to KQED filed a lawsuit against Fresno priest Jesús Antonio Castañeda Serna and the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, alleging Castañeda had sexually assaulted them. That lawsuit was settled.
Ten more people filed another lawsuit against the priest and his former employer in April 2021, alleging the priest sexually assaulted them, or attempted to. One of them says she was a minor at the time.
Castañeda continues to preach to followers in Fresno, either via Facebook Live or in person at private events, former church members said.
As of late June, he still belonged to the World Communion of Christian Celtic Convergence Churches, an organization with headquarters in the United Kingdom that accepted him as a priest in January 2018.
“Fr. Antonio’s status remains unchanged. We await the conclusion of due process in this case,” Bruce Taylor, the group’s archbishop of North America, said.
Castañeda remains out on bond, awaiting a trial scheduled for March 2022. His defense attorney, Ralph Torres, declined to comment on the lawsuit filed earlier this year. Further attempts to reach Castañeda were unsuccessful.
Luis said he couldn’t tell the doctor what had really happened.
It had been several days since he first noticed the blood in his urine and the bruising around his groin.
The 40-year-old native of Jalisco, Mexico, had been meeting with a popular local priest in Fresno, Jesús Antonio Castañeda Serna, who went by the name Father Antonio. His family had introduced him to Father Antonio in hope of the priest helping Luis, who had struggled with an addiction to meth, get back on his feet.
“A lot of people would come looking for him,” said Luis, which is not his real name. KQED is not using the real names of alleged sexual assault survivors in this story. “They said it was something … like a gift from God he had.”
At the time, Father Antonio was lead pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Spanish-language congregation of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin. The priest’s charismatic leadership drew in hundreds from Fresno’s Latino community and his rumored healing abilities had earned him the nickname “el padrecito que hace milagros” — the priest who performs miracles.
During sessions in Father Antonio’s office that Luis said took place over the course of several years, he would lie down on a bench or massage table wearing only his boxers, while Father Antonio prayed and rubbed oil onto his skin. The intensity of the massage was so forceful that the priest often left bruises, Luis later testified.