'He Played With People’s Minds': Fresno Priest Left a Trail of Sexual Abuse Allegations
Luis, a 40-year-old native of Jalisco, Mexico, had been meeting with a popular local priest in Fresno, Jesús Antonio Castañeda Serna, who went by the name Father Antonio. His family had introduced him to Father Antonio in hope of the priest helping Luis, who had struggled with an addiction to meth, get back on his feet.
At the time, Father Antonio was lead pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Spanish-language congregation of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin. The priest’s charismatic leadership drew in hundreds from Fresno’s Latino community and his rumored healing abilities had earned him the nickname “el padrecito que hace milagros” — the priest who performs miracles.
During sessions in Father Antonio’s office that Luis said took place over the course of several years, he would lie down on a bench or massage table wearing only his boxers, while Father Antonio prayed and rubbed oil onto his skin. The intensity of the massage was so forceful that the priest often left bruises, Luis later testified.
Luis eventually told authorities that it was during these massages — which the priest said he needed to expel a curse from his body — that Father Antonio sexually assaulted him.
A KQED investigation found Castañeda had been accused before and has moved from the Catholic Church to the Anglican Church and then to another religious group without undergoing complete background checks — or any at all.
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