Former Catholic Priest sentenced to 22 years for sexually abusing minor he met in church

WMAR - ABC 2 [Baltimore MD]

May 11, 2022

By Rushaad Hayward

Former Priest, 65-year-old Fernando Cristancho, was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison for coercion and enticement of a minor.

Cristancho also admitted that he met the victim through the church. The Priest produced nude images of four other minor victims.

He must also register as a sex offender in the place where he lives.

According to his guilty plea, Cristancho was ordained as a Roman Catholic Priest in Colombia, South America, in 1985. It wasn’t until 1999, when he started work in Baltimore in the Archdiocese.

However, the crimes were committed in Harford County at the St. Ignatius Catholic Church.

The plea agreement shows that the victim was 11,12 and 13 at the time of the incident. The victim’s family were also members of St. Ignatius.

Soon after Cristancho arrived at the church, he began to spend time with the victim’s family outside of church, including meals at restaurants and at the family’s home.

The victim became a lector at the church with Cristancho working with him and coaching him in the process.

The Priest began to engage in various inappropriate activities with the victim like drinking alcohol and acting as if they were in a romantic relationship.

After he no longer worked at the church, Cristancho arranged to hold religious services in the home of a parishioner, with the victim acting as the altar server.

In the following years, the Priest would invite himself on a camping trip with the victim and have the victim spend the weekend at his house as well.

This is when the abuse occurred.

Cristancho sexually abused the victim from 2002 through at least Fall 2003.

Law enforcement didn’t catch wind of this behavior until 2017 when obscene photos of children were seen on his phone at a pharmacy. Officials were notified after an employee made the report.

After executing a search warrant, investigators found nude photos and videos of four other minor victims, with most of the images being recorded when the victims were less than five years old.