OAKLAND (CBS SF) — A former parish priest at Alameda’s St. Joseph Basilica has been charged with misdemeanor sexual battery on a female adult, according to Alameda County prosecutors.

Varghese Alengadad, 68, also known as Father George, was a priest at St. Joseph Basilica when the alleged battery took place on July 24, 2019.

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The charges sent shock waves through the island’s Catholic community.

“Father George held a position of trust, authority and power at St. Joseph Basilica in Alameda,” Alameda County District Attorney Nancy
O’Malley said in a statement. “As Pastor of the church and 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.”

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“It takes courage for victims and survivors of sexuallymotivated crimes, especially those crimes committed by a clergy member or other person in power, to report the crimes,” O’Malley’s statement continued. “My Office does all it can to help those reporting sexual abuse to feel safe and supported. To all victims and survivors, I say that my office will bring perpetrators to justice while providing support and resources to enable victims to work through and overcome the trauma of the assault.”

According to the Bay Area News Group, Father George was removed from the Christ the King Catholic Parish in Pleasant Hill in February where he had been living after leaving St. Joseph Basilica in Alameda in December.

Church officials had removed him from the Alameda parish after police opened an investigation regarding possible sexual misconduct.

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Anyone who may have been a victim of Father George or who has additional information about him is encouraged to call the Alameda Police
Department or Alameda County prosecutors at (510) 272-6222.