Almost exactly a year ago, a 67-year-old Catholic priest named Varghese Alengadan (who went by “Father George”) allegedly assaulted an adult female. He was recently charged with misdemeanor sexual battery and scheduled to appear in court yesterday in Oakland, California.
He never showed.
Now there’s a warrant for his arrest, but the judge has rejected a request for his bail to be set at $20,000. Instead, it’ll be a single penny.
The District Attorney’s Office requested his arrest warrant be set for $20,000, but instead the judge denied the request and instead set it at one cent — the newer bail schedule in place because of the coronavirus.
I’m not necessarily mad about the $0.01. Cash bail is unethical, the COVID concerns are legitimate, and there’s no indication he’s being given preferential treatment just because he’s a priest. But this guy didn’t show up to his court date. So what’s going to happen now?
The Oakland diocese says he’s no longer living on their property and that they removed him once he was charged with the assault. He’s technically still employed by them, though, pending the outcome of this case.
Bishop Michael Barber said he urges Alengadan to cooperate with the judicial process.
“I am deeply disappointed by Father Alengadan’s decision not to appear in court,” Barber said in a statement. “We are cooperating with law enforcement, in seeking justice and mercy for everyone involved in this situation.”
The priest’s lawyer, meanwhile, says everything will be just fine. (Because what else is he going to say.)
Michael Cardoza, Alengadan’s attorney, said his client was “busy with other things at the moment” and it wasn’t feasible for him to get to court. He said it will be an “easy fix,” however.
Busy? There’s a pandemic and this guy’s an out-of-work priest. What could he possibly be doing that overrides a sexual assault hearing that directly involves him?
Whatever the case, no one should be mad about the bail but it’s vital that justice gets served. If he’s not obeying the rules, let’s hope he doesn’t catch a break just because he worked for the Catholic Church. Priests don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt.
For the sake of the victims — the Church said there were allegations from more than one “current and former female employees” even if only one pressed charges — he needs to be found and his case needs to be heard ASAP.
(Screenshot via YouTube. Thanks to Jim for the link)