Warrant issued for California priest who failed to show

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A San Francisco Bay Area priest accused of sexual battery failed to appear in court Monday and a judge issued a warrant for his arrest.

Varghese Alengadan, 67, known as “Father George,” was charged last week with one count of misdemeanor sexual battery for allegedly inappropriately touching a woman in July 2019.

He was scheduled to appear in Alameda County Superior Court Monday for his arraignment but never showed up, the district attorney’s office told the Mercury News of San Jose.

Alameda County Judge Colin Bowen issued an arrest warrant with bail set at just one cent due to the coronavirus pandemic. Jail population reductions mean that only inmates accused of serious and violent felonies are being held.

The Oakland diocese removed him from service when police opened an investigation involving possible sexual misconduct and he was removed from his position at St. Joseph Basilica in Alameda in December, the newspaper reported. Alengadan was later removed from his home in a diocese rectory.

In a letter to parishioners in February, Oakland diocese Chancellor Stephen Wilcox said the allegations of misconduct were “of a sexual nature with current and former female employees.”

The Associated Press could not immediately locate a phone number for Alengadan and it was unclear whether he was being represented by an attorney.