San Diego

Priest Found Guilty of Misdemeanor Sexual Battery

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 convicted Monday of misdemeanor sexual battery after jurors returned a verdict, prosecutors confirmed.

Rev. Juan Garcia Castillo faces six months behind bars and a $2,000 fine for groping a seminary student in a Carlsbad restaurant on Feb. 4. 

An attorney and former U.S. Naval officer who was studying to become a priest accused the priest 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 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 and criminally charged with one count of misdemeanor sexual battery in May. 

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

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