Lawsuit filed today Alleges Archdiocese Destroyed Records of Complaints of Sexual Abuse by Father Christopher Cunningham
PRESS RELEASE–A lawsuit was filed today by a second child sexual abuse victim of Father Christopher Cunningham, a Catholic Priest who served at parishes in Covina, West Covina, Palmdale, and Redondo Beach. The victim alleges abuse occurred in the early 2000’s when Father Cunningham was the pastor at St. Louise De Marillac Catholic Church in Covina, California. According to the lawsuit the Archdiocese of Los Angeles had received complaints in the 1990’s and later that Father Cunningham had molested children, and that the Archdiocese destroyed records of those complaints. The lawsuit alleges that instead of investigating those complaints Cunningham was transferred and then promoted.
A lawsuit was filed in 2015 by another alleged victim of Father Cunningham who also alleged abuse while Cunningham was the pastor at St. Louise De Marillac church. That case is moving forward.
The lawsuit filed today alleges that Father Cunningham, while he was assigned to St.Mary’s Catholic Church in Palmdale, was seen by parish staff and the pastor of the parish regularly having teen boys alone in his rectory bedroom, taking teen boys alone out to movies and ice cream, and wrestling with them. All of which, according to the lawsuit, was conduct that violated the Archdiocese’s policies for prevention of child sexual abuse. The lawsuit alleges parish staff were suspicious that Cunningham might be abusing minors.
The lawsuit alleges that in 1998, a complaint was made to the Vicar for Clergy of the Los Angeles Archdiocese, Monsignor Richard Loomis, that Father Cunningham had sexually molested a child, but that the Archdiocese never interviewed the alleged victim or parish staff, and instead transferred Father Cunningham. The lawsuit alleges that the Archdiocese destroyed all records regarding the identity of the victim, the time and location in which the conduct occurred, who complained, and who had knowledge of the complaint. The lawsuit alleges that in 2016, when questioned under oath about the complaint, Monsignor Loomis testified that he couldn’t remember anything about it. The lawsuit alleges that Monsignor Loomis himself has been the subject of multiple child sexual abuse complaints, one of which resulted in a significant settlement. Loomis served as Cardinal Mahony’s righthand in addressing child sexual abuse complaints in the early 2000’s, and is in active ministry in the Archdiocese presently.
The lawsuit alleges that records have also been destroyed of another complaint regarding Father Cunningham’s activity with a minor at a Catholic World Youth Day event in Europe in 2005. The lawsuit also alleges that in 2008 the Archdiocese included Father Cunningham on a list of priests who had been accused of child molestation, but that all records regarding that allegation have likewise been destroyed.
The lawsuit alleges despite the numerous complaints of molestation against Father Cunningham that he remains a priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in good standing, and he continues to receive financial support from the Archdiocese as well as being provided a separate legal defense.
According to Anthony M. DeMarco, Esq, the Pasadena attorney representing the victims: “Instead of investigating complaints of abuse by reaching out the alleged victims, the current and past leadership of the Archdiocese has destroyed records of those complaints to protect Father Cunningham and the Archdiocese. The Archdiocese has been content to have the victims of Father Cunningham think they are alone and have them suffer in silence and fear.”
Father Cunningham served as a priest at the following Catholic Parishes
1990-1994 St. Christopher’s in West Covina
1994-1998 St. Mary’s in Palmdale
1998-2001 St. Lawrence Martyr in Redondo Beach
2001-2004 St. Louise De Marillac in Covina
2004-2005 Our Lady of the Assumption in Ventura
The Law Office of Anthony DeMarco
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