Former Catholic priest extradited back to California with 12 felony charges of lewd acts upon children; SNAP responds

We commend the efforts of the Rhode Island Fugitive Task Force, who took Christopher John Cunningham, 58, into custody. Cunningham is a former priest from Los Angeles County, California, who, according to the L.A. District Attorney, abused four boys from two parishes between 1995 and 2001. He was removed from active ministry in 2006 and faced civil suits in 2015.  But sadly that did not prevent Cunningham from becoming a Clinical Psychologist in Newport, R.I., in 2013. The actions of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in just releasing what appears to be a predator known to them prove once again that the Catholic Church is more concerned about protecting themselves, the abusive Shepard, instead of the sheep.

Cunningham has pleaded not guilty and his bail is set at 2.2 million dollars. A preliminary hearing will be held on May 12 in Los Angeles County.

We are outraged that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles did not turn Cunningham over to authorities when the first report of sexual abuse came forth. We are outraged but not shocked. We often see this same pattern in dioceses and religious orders. It is not uncommon for defrocked priests to continue onto another life; after all, most are highly educated and can easily slide into other roles.

However, this news also illustrates the power of survivor's voices, their courage to come forward to remove a predator from the general public and prevent him from ever hurting another child is enormous. Thank you to these brave men!

We demand that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles disclose where other clerics laicized for sexual abuse have relocated; the general public deserves to know if a perpetrator is working with their children. We also encourage any victim of Christopher John Cunningham to reach out to SNAP for resources at www.snapnetwork.org  

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager (267-261-0578), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected]),

(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)


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  • Alexandra White
    published this page in Media Statements 2021-05-03 12:50:26 -0500

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