The ruling was announced by Maryland District Attorney Eric L. baron; Acting Special Agent in Charge Selwyn Smith of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; Colonel Woodrow W. Jones III, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police; Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey R. and Harvard State Attorney Albert Bezinger, Jr.
“Finally hold Cristancho accountable for his horrific crimes. Let this sentence act as a deterrent to anyone who seeks child sexual abuse, especially those in positions of trust intended to be a place of safety and sanctuary for children.” The United States Attorney for the District of Maryland, Eric L. Baron. “The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland will hunt down and prosecute fraudsters who abuse the trust of children and families.”
According to his guilty plea, Cristancho was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in Colombia, South America, in 1985 and moved to Alexandria, Virginia, where he worked as an assistant priest. Around 1999, Cristancho was awarded faculties to serve as a priest in the Diocese of Baltimore, and served as a priest in Baltimore County, and at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Harford County. In 2002, the Archdiocese of Baltimore canceled Cristancho Colleges to serve as a parish priest.
As stated in the plea agreement, John Doe was 11, 12, and 13 years old at the time of the crimes against him. John Doe’s family were members of Saint Ignatius. Shortly after Cristancho arrived at St. Ignatius in 1999 began spending time with the John Doe family outside of church, including meals at restaurants and the family home, and at family gatherings. John Doe also became a church teacher, with Cristancho working with and coaching him in the process.
Beginning with John Doe being eleven, Cristancho asked John Doe to massage his back; offered to John Doe alcohol; He took John Doe to dinner, kissed John Doe, and told John Doe that he loved him; And they acted as if they were in a romantic relationship. Cristancho also showed John Doe pornography and suggested that they do the same sexual activities.
After Cristancho stopped working at the church, he arranged for religious services to be held in a parishioner’s home, with John Doe performing as the leader or altar servant. Additionally, in the summer of 2002, Cristancho invited himself to a John Doe family camping trip and arranged to sleep next to John Doe in a tent. After the camping trip, Cristancho arranged for John Doe to help around Cristancho’s house, including with his infants. Eventually, Cristancho arranged to spend the weekend at Cristancho’s house which John Doe did regularly until 2003. During those weekends, Cristancho sexually assaulted John Doe. Cristancho sexually assaulted John Doe from 2002 until at least the fall of 2003.
In September 2017, Cristancho went to a retail pharmacy to use the store’s photo printing equipment. When a store employee helped Cristancho, they noticed several photos of naked children and an image of what appeared to be a bite mark on a young boy’s buttocks on Cristancho’s smartphone. The employee submitted a report afterwards.
Law enforcement launched an investigation, and a search warrant was executed at Cristancho’s residence on September 19, 2017. During the search warrant, investigators confiscated several digital devices including a smartphone. A subsequent forensic examination of the phone resulted in the discovery of nude photos and videos of four other minor victims, with most of the photos recorded when the victims were under five years old.
This case was brought as part of the Safe Childhood Project, a national initiative launched by the Department of Justice in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s Office and the Criminal Division’s Division of Child Exploitation and Obscenity, the Safe Childhood Project mobilizes federal, state, and local resources to locate, arrest, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about the Safe Childhood Project, please visit www.justice.gov/psc. For more information on Internet security education, please visit www.justice.gov/psc Click on the Resources tab on the left of the page.
United States Attorney Eric L. Barron commended HSI, the Maryland State Police, the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, and the Harford County District Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation and prosecution and thanked the Harford County Children’s Defense Center for their assistance. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant US Attorney Paul E.
For more information about the Maryland Attorney General’s office, its priorities, and the resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md/project-safe-childhood And https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.
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