San Diego

Ex-Carlsbad Priest Sentenced to Jail for Groping Seminary Student

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

A former associate pastor at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Carlsbad was sentenced Friday to 60 days in jail and three years probation after being found guilty of misdemeanor sexual battery last month.

Rev. Juan Garcia Castillo will also be required to register as a sex offender, the District Attorney's office said. He was convicted Dec. 17 of groping a seminary student in a Carlsbad restaurant on Feb. 4, 2018.

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

Surveillance video showing the three men drinking in the restaurant was submitted as evidence. 

The 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, who did not want to be identified, 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.

The 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 2018 and criminally charged with one count of misdemeanor sexual battery in May 2018. 

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

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