22 yrs in prison for Former Maryland Priest; SNAP responds
For Immediate Release May 11, 2022)
Fernando Cristancho, who formerly worked as a priest in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, was sentenced today to 22 years in federal prison for sexually abusing a minor he met through his church and producing nude images of other minors, the US Attorney’s Office for Maryland reports. Those crimes were committed after his bosses at the Archdiocese removed him from his position at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Harford County, where he met the victim. Cristancho admitted to investigators that he produced nude images of four other children. We are grateful to the store employee who reported the images on Fr. Cristancho’s phone in 2017, to the brave survivor who was willing to testify in court, and to the police and prosecutors who helped to take this dangerous man off the streets.
According to Bishop Accountability, the Archdiocese of Baltimore fired Fr. Cristancho from St. Ignatius in July of 2002 for fathering three children by in vitro fertilization. The clergyman had been removed from a parish in Arlington, Virginia, in 1997, for the sexual abuse of an adult woman. After the 2002 firing, the cleric continued to hold services in a private home, and the victim continued to assist him as he had at St. Ignatius. It was during this period of time that the boy was sexually abused.
It is astonishing that a priest tossed out of a parish in Virginia in 1997 for sexual abuse ended up working in a parish in Maryland, yet we have seen this pattern from church officials far too many times. Still more appalling is the fact that he was so poorly supervised after his firing from a church in Maryland in 2002 that he was able to continue holding masses. (Fr. Cristancho's priestly faculties were apparently not revoked until 2004.) But most appalling is the fact that in 2008 the cleric lost custody of his three children because the court found that he had sexually abused his two sons.
We cannot help but wonder how many other lives were endangered by this priest who was so carelessly supervised by the church officials and who had been allowed to walk free among us for so long. Fr. Cristancho was ordained in 1985 and worked in Arlington, Virginia, at Good Shepherd parish, studied briefly at Loyola College, and then went on to hold Spanish services at St. Francis De Sales in Abingdon, Maryland, as well as working at St. Ignatius Church.
Given his history, we are glad to see this sentence. However, we will remain watchful for Cristancho’s parole hearing. Abusers never stop abusing and it is clear to us that Cristancho presents a threat to children. A former Pennsylvania priest still acted on his predilections at age 77. We also hope that this story will encourage others who may have seen or suspected crimes by Fr. Cristancho or any others in the Archdiocese of Baltimore to come forward, get help, and start healing.
CONTACT: David Lorenz, Maryland SNAP Leader ([email protected] 301-906-9161) Becky Ianni, Virginia SNAP Leader [email protected], 703-801-6044) Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager([email protected], 267-261-0578)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)