Church places Catholic Diocese of Oakland priest on leave over groping claim

Church officials in California placed a priest on leave and opened a new investigation into a sexual misconduct allegation.

The San Francisco Chronicle informed officials at the Catholic Diocese of Oakland of a 2002 complaint by a parishioner who said the Rev. George Alengadan groped her, the newspaper reports.

Alengadan has been moved out of two parishes since July after five women alleged sexual harassment and Alameda police opened a criminal probe.

The parents of the alleged victim said they reported the 2002 fondling allegations to the diocese immediately, deciding against going to police because they trusted the church to handle it internally.

The parents never received a response, they said.

The mother alerted the diocese again in 2016, sending an email to Bishop Michael C. Barber without results, she said.

The Chronicle published a series of articles about the church's reassignment of the 67-year-old priest, which the newspaper said resulted in the diocese acknowledging the 2002 claim.

Diocese Chancellor Stephen Wilcox apologized for how the church handled Alengadan, telling about 100 parishioners during a meeting Wednesday that he “should have known better.”

The newspaper was not able to reach Alengadan and the diocese said it would forward requests for comment to the priest’s attorney.