Former St. Joseph Basilica Priest Misses Court Date
An Alameda County Court judge issued an arrest warrant for a former priest at St. Joseph Basilica after he failed to appear for his arraignment on July 20.
Varghese Alengadan, 67, was charged on July 15 with one count of misdemeanor sexual battery for allegedly inappropriately touching an adult woman on July 24, 2019, according to court documents. His arraignment was scheduled for 9 a.m. at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland before Judge Colin Bowen, but Alengadan, known as “Father George,” never appeared. Bowen issued the warrant soon after.
Michael Cardoza, Alengan’s attorney, said his client will not turn himself in until the civil case is settled.
“My client wants to fight these specious allegations head on,” said Cardoza. “We’re not worried about the warrant.”
Cardoza believes the accusations against Alengadan will prove to be baseless.
“It about money,” said Cardoza. “One woman said she was hugged for too long.”
Cardoza, who runs an East Bay law firm, said he has received hundreds of letters from Father George’s parishioners who support him and believe the claims against him are an “absolute fallacy.” Cardoza said he knows his client’s whereabouts but has no timeline for when or if his client will turn himself into authorities.
The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office decided to charge Alengadan with misdemeanor sexual battery after a lengthy investigation by Alameda Police Department (APD) that began in December 2019.
“Father George held a position of trust, authority and power at St. Joseph Basilica in Alameda,” wrote Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley in a statement announcing her decision. “As Pastor of the Church and the School, there existed a power imbalance over others that compounds the impact of sexual abuse. His position made his actions all the more devastating to the victim. It takes courage for victims and survivors of sexually motivated crimes, especially those crimes committed by a clergy member or other person in power, to report the crimes.”
Alengadan was immediately placed on administrative leave from St. Joseph Basilica by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland once the investigation became public. He is not allowed to actively work as a priest, according to the Oakland diocese.
Father George had been out of custody on the misdemeanor charge.
O’Malley asked anyone who has been victimized by or who has additional information regarding Father Alengadan to contact APD or the District Attorney’s Office at 272-6222.