Ex-Catholic Priest Arrested In Newport, Charged With Sexually Assaulting 4 Boys

A former Catholic priest was arrested by the Rhode Island State Police on Wednesday in Newport after being charged with sexually assaulting four boys in California two decades ago.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney on Wednesday charged Christopher John Cunningham, 58, with 12 counts of lewd acts upon on a child under the age of 14. 

“The victims were innocent children who have spent most of their lives with the trauma caused by the abuse alleged in this case,” District Attorney Gascón said. “My office is committed to holding accountable anyone who abuses and takes advantage of our children, especially when they hold a position of trust.”

While working as an associate pastor at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Palmdale, the defendant is accused of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy on two occasions between November 1995 and September 1997. Cunningham also allegedly sexually assaulted a boy at the victim’s home sometime between June 1996 and June 1998.

Cunningham also worked at Saint Lawrence Martyr Catholic Church in Redondo Beach. While there, he is accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old on two occasions between July 1998 and January 2001. During that same time frame, the defendant allegedly sexually assaulted a 10-year-old boy on multiple occasions.

Cunningham had been working as a Clinical Psychologist in Newport, RI since 2013.

The case remains under investigation by the Special Victims Bureau of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. If anyone has additional information or was a victim, please call the bureau at (562) 946-8531.

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