San Diego

San Diego Priest's Accuser Testifies in Court

Juan Garcia Castillo, 35, had served as an associate pastor at St. Patrick's Parish in Carlsbad

An attorney and former U.S. Naval officer who was studying to become a priest accused a San Diego-area priest of grabbing his genitals after a night of drinking in a Carlsbad restaurant and bar.

Rev. Juan Garcia Castillo, a former associate pastor at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Carlsbad,  is accused of misdemeanor sexual battery for the incident that is alleged to have occurred on Feb. 4. 

A 34-year-old man testified in court Wednesday that he was a seminary student when he joined Castillo, 35, and another seminary student for a beer at BJ's in Carlsbad.

Surveillance video shows the three men sitting for more than four hours drinking and talking.

After two hours at the restaurant, the accuser estimated he had finished two and was drinking a third Long Island Iced Teas.

"I was drunk but I knew what was happening," he said from the stand.

He testified Castillo kept pushing him to drink. 

"He was almost mocking me," the man testified. "'Come on, you can have another, you're not that drunk.'"

The alleged victim said all the drinking eventually made him sick so he went to the bathroom where he vomited.

"All of the sudden I feel him behind me," the man said. He testified that Castillo began touching him around his thighs and waist as he stood over a toilet.

"All of the sudden the hand very quickly goes directly to my crotch and grabs my [genitals]," he said.

Castillo's accuser said he immediately turned around and told the defendant to leave him alone. Still feeling sick, he said he turned back around to face the toilet thinking he might vomit again.

At that point, he said Castillo game back into the stall and groped him a second time. He again told him to go away.

He said he exited the bathroom and walked back toward their table in disbelief of what had happened.

"No warning, no sweet talk, no conversation," defense attorney Victor Pippins said, "This is the uncorroborated word of a person who was throwing-up drunk."

"This is a 'he said/he said' where both he’s are drunk and there is no corroborating evidence," Pippins said.

The alleged victim identified himself on the stand as a California attorney who worked as a U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General. He joined the seminary after converting to Catholicism as an adult. 

Castillo was removed from the parish in March and criminally charged with one count of misdemeanor sexual battery in May. If convicted, he faces six months behind bars and a $2,000 fine. 

Castillo was from Honduras had served as an associate pastor at St. Patrick's Parish in Carlsbad since 2011.

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