Fr. Fernando Cristancho – Archdiocese of Baltimore

On Behalf of | May 17, 2023 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Fr. Fernando Cristancho

Archdiocese of Baltimore/Istmina-Tado

Fernando Cristancho Horowitz Law

Ordained: 1985

Removed: 2022

Laicized: 2022

Assignment History:

  • 1985-1995: Diocese of Istmina-Tado, Colombia
  • 1995-1998: Good Shepherd Church (Alexandria, VA)
  • 1998-2000: Loyola University (Baltimore, MD)
  • 2000-2002: St. Ignatius (Forest Hill, MD) and St. Francis de Sales

Summary of Abuse Allegations Against Father Fernando Cristancho

Fr. Fernando Cristancho was ordained a Catholic priest in Columbia in 1985 and worked in the Diocese of Arlington and the  Archdiocese of Baltimore beginning in 1995. In 2002, Fr. Cristancho was listed on the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Credibly Accused of Sexual Abuse of Minors list. In April 2023, Maryland’s Attorney General released a report alleging 156 Catholic clergy members sexually abused at least 600 children over six decades. The report lists the names of the abusers, including Fr. Cristancho.

According to the AG’s report, Cristancho was born and ordained in Colombia, South America. He came to the US in 1995. In 1997, Cristancho was reportedly accused of sexual misconduct with a young woman (not a minor) and fired from his parish job in the Arlington Diocese for disbursing church funds for personal expenses. Cristancho entered the Loyola Pastoral Counseling Program and then transferred to the Archdiocese of Baltimore, which knew his faculties had been revoked by the Arlington Diocese in 1997.

In 2001, Cristancho, while a priest at St. Ignatius, traveled twice to Colombia with a woman so that she could be artificially inseminated with his sperm. She became pregnant and gave birth to triplets later that year. He continued to serve at St. Ignatius and did not tell the church about the children. Church officials learned about the children in June or July 2002 and fired Cristancho.

In 2002, a man met with the archdiocese to report mental abuse by Cristancho between 2000 and 2002. When he didn’t hear back after four weeks, he reached out again. He described mental abuse and being bullied into giving Cristancho $3000, his car, gifts for his family, marrying his sister for immigration purposes, and providing housing to his family members. He described himself as a victim of the devil within the archdiocese and described the child sex abuse scandal as evidence of the devil’s work. 

In 2003, the mother of Cristancho’s children became concerned about a possible inappropriate relationship between Cristancho and a boy he tutored in Spanish, who stayed overnight with him. She filed a police report. In 2005, one of Cristancho’s two boys told his mother and then a babysitter in 2006 that Cristancho allegedly performed oral sex on his children (boys) and put his penis in the mouth of one of the boys. The boy said, “he tells me to play with my pee pee so it could get big, and then he puts it in his mouth.” Child Protective Services found that sexual abuse of both male triplets was “indicated.” The birth mother sued for custody to be shifted from Cristancho to her. The Maryland Appeals Court approved her custody in 2008. Cristancho denied abusing the boys but did not contest the findings of the DSS or the courts.

In 2016, the Archdiocese of Baltimore was contacted by a man who said he was sexually abused by Cristancho beginning in 2002 when he was 11 years old. Most of the abuse occurred at Cristancho’s house in Harford County. Cristancho was a friend of the victim’s grandmother and stepfather and also spent time with the victim on vacations and at the houses of the victim’s family members. The victim slept overnight at Cristancho’s house and said Cristancho shared a bedroom with his young children. At the beginning of the abuse, on a camping trip, Cristancho shared a tent with the victim and put his leg between the victim’s leg. The abuse progressed to fondling, and ultimately Cristancho raped the boy both anally and orally. The boy was terrified and stopped speaking to his family. The Archdiocese made the mandated report. 

In 2017, Cristancho went to a pharmacy and used photo printing equipment. An employee saw naked pictures of children and made a report to law enforcement. Federal law enforcement opened an investigation into Cristancho. He ultimately admitted to creating nude images of five victims. 

In October 2021, Cristancho pleaded guilty to federal charges of coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity and also admitted that he produced nude images of four other minor victims. In May 2022, Cristancho was sentenced to serve 22 years in prison after admitting to taking nude photographs and videos of children younger than five years old.

Cristancho was laicized in 2022

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Baltimore in Maryland. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Maryland, contact our office today. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse nationwide. We can help. Contact us at 888-283-9922 or [email protected] to discuss your options today.