According to the LA Times, a Catholic priest who worked at St. Mary’s Catholic Church and St. Lawrence Martyr Catholic Church has been charged with the sexual assault of children.
Christopher John Cunningham, 58-years-old, has been accused of sexually assaulting children. Cunningham allegedly sexually assaulted an 11-year-old boy between 1995 and 1997 on two occasions while he was the priest at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Palmdale. Cunningham also allegedly molested a boy between 1996 and 1998.
Cunningham was later reassigned to St. Lawrence Martyr Catholic Church in Redondo Beach, where he allegedly sexually abused a 10-year-old boy and 12-year-old boy between 1998 and 2001, reported the LA Times.
Cunningham has been charged with 12 counts of committing lewd acts upon a minor, reported the LA County district attorney’s office.
Attorney contributor Bobby Thompson is an experienced sexual abuse lawyer and represents victims of sexual abuse and their families in civil lawsuits. Below, Bobby highlights his thoughts on the legal options of victims sexually abused by a priest.
“Religious organizations are legally obligated to do their best to uphold the safety of its congregation members despite their age. Unfortunately, numerous sexual predators have placed themselves in positions of power in churches and committed abuse against the congregation, specifically children. This exploitation of power and trust from clergy members has been seen at various religious organizations across the country. These organizations must do their best to prevent predators from working with their congregations and implement preventative measures such as background checks, cameras, and reporting systems.”
“In cases where a priest is accused of sexual assault, a religious organization may be deemed liable for failing to uphold their congregation member’s safety. Sadly, in some cases, sexual abuse by a clergy member solely occurs due to negligence. An example of negligence is if prior misconduct complaints were filed against a priest, but the religious organization did not properly investigate the allegations. In negligence cases, victims and their families should secure the services of an experienced sexual assault attorney to help determine if they have grounds for a civil lawsuit.”