Fr Christopher Cunningham
(a.k.a Father Chris)
|Assignment||Beginning Date||Completion Date|
|• St. Christopher Catholic Church, West Covina, CA, Associate Pastor||7/1/1990||6/30/1994|
|• St. Mary Catholic Church, Palmdale, CA, Associate Pastor||7/1/1994||6/30/1998|
|• St. Lawrence Martyr Catholic Church, Redondo Beach, CA, Associate Pastor||7/1/1998||1/31/2001|
|• St. Louise de Marillac Catholic Church, Covina, CA, Pastor||2/1/2001||4/27/2004|
|• Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church, Ventura, CA, Associate Pastor||4/28/2004||9/8/2005|
|Timeline according to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles*|
|1/31/2013||Fr Christopher Cunningham is listed among others has having been credibly accused of molesting a child while serving as a priest in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The list is dated October 2008 though the list was publicly published in 2013. This list disappeared from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles website for many years and was revised in 2018 and republished. Fr Christopher Cunningham's name remained on the revised 2018 list.|
|*see Final Addendum to The Report to the People of God|
1st Lawsuit SETTLED
Consolidated List 2018
July 1, 1990
Christopher Cunningham takes his Holy Order Vows and is assigned as a Deacon to serve in the South Bay region of Los Angeles, San Pedro, CA.
One pastor notes that Cunningham is popular with young boys and takes them out for ice cream trips and to the movies.
July 1, 1990
Fr Christopher Cunningham is ordained a priest and incarnated into the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
His first assignment is as Associate pastor at St. Christopher Catholic Church in West Covina, CA.
1st Reported Abuse
Fr. Chris begins his grooming activities with young boys almost immediately. Tickling, wrestling, talking about sex, and taking boys on unchaperoned outings to get ice cream, go the movies, and other "fun" activities. Here he meets, Michael Varela, a 12 year old boy whose mother works for the church. One day, when Michael is home alone, Fr. Chris enters his house against Michael's will and proceeds to play video games with Michael. All the while groping and tickling the boy to the point of discomfort. Michael's mom comes home early that day to find Fr. Chris alone no the couch with her son. She tells Fr. Chris that he's not welcome at her home when she's not there. She immediately suspects sexual impropriety and reports the incident to a Catholic nun at the church as well as to the Principal of St. Christopher Catholic School.
July 1, 1994
Fr. Christopher Cunningham is assigned to St. Mary Catholic Church in Palmdale, CA.
2nd Reported Abuse
Fr. Chris continues to wrestle and tickle boys at his new assignment. He's also popular with the boys because he takes them out for ice cream and to the movies, often one-on-one. Here Fr. Chris befriends the Ratcliff family and becomes close with their 12 year old son Charles. Fr. Chris routinely wrestles with Charles Jr. One day, Charles Sr. puts an end to the wrestling when he catches Fr. Chris straddled across Charles Jr.'s legs with his face between Charles Jr.'s groin. Charles Jr.'s aunt witnesses a similar incident at a later time. All of the adults are uncomfortable.
3rd Reported Abuse
Fr. Chris is seen as spending an inordinate amount of time with a young boy named JOHN CB DOE. JOHN CB DOE is an altar boy for Fr. Chris and is often seen petting the young boy and tucking his shirt down his pants. Later, JOHN CB DOE alleges that he was molested by Fr. Chris during this time.
4th Report of Abuse
JOHN RC DOE performed as an altar server for many masses with Fr. Chris. While he's alone with Fr. Chris, Fr. Chris would regularly touch JOHN RC DOE, including rubbing his shoulder and pulling him in for hugs, caressing his lower back, and slipping his fingers underneath the boy's belt line. One day Fr. Chris puts his hands on the boy's shoulders, massages them for a moment and looks deeply into the boys eyes and tells the boy, "You are a beautiful child of God." JOHN RC DOE describes Fr. Chris' look as one of romantic love and lust and was instantly creeped out by Fr. Chris. The boy tells his mother that he doesn't want to be an altar boy anymore and doesn't want to be around Fr. Chris anymore. The boy's mother is Director of Religious Education at the parish.
July 1, 1998
Fr. Chris is assigned to St. Lawrence Martyr Catholic Church in Redondo Beach.
At St. Lawrence, Fr. Chris' grooming behavior continues. This time he begins spending large amounts of time with young boys at the beach where he wrestles and tickles them. He continues to take them out for ice cream and to the movies. Many, then boys, report going to the movies with Fr. Chris and him putting his hand on their thighs. Parish staff report seeing Fr. Chris taking boys, both in groups and alone, up to his bedroom in the priests' living quarters. One staff members report this to the Pastor, who simply says that Cunningham is "immature."
May 24, 1999
Monsignor Richard Loomis - an accused pedofile, himself – writes a letter to Fr. Chris regarding an investigation that was conducted into possible child molestation charges regarding Fr. Chris. Loomis informs Fr. Chris that a family member of a boy complained about Fr. Chris' behavior with that boy and that an internal investigation was necessary. Loomis advises Fr. Chris that he doesn't need to worry because the investigation found no wrongdoing on Fr. Chris' part, due to Fr. Chris' "credible denial" of the situation. Fr. Loomis informs Fr. Chris that a permanent, confidential file will be kept of the investigation. Today, there is no known record of the investigation according to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
5th report of abuse
JOHN BC DOE, a minor, is singled out by Fr. Chris on several occasions. One one occasion, JOHN BC DOE can feel Fr. Chris' erection when Fr. Chris is wrestling with him. On another occasion, Fr. Chris puts his hands down the boy's pants and fondles the boy's genitals. On yet another occasion, Fr. Chris takes the boy alone with him in the rectory and threatens to kick the boy out of school while fondling the boys buttocks and groping his body. The boy tells his mother that Fr. Chris is harassing him. The boys mother addresses Fr. Chris' behavior to the church's Pastor, Fr. Lenihan, who dismisses Fr. Chris' behavior is simply "immature."
6th Report of Abuse
JOHN CM DOE is a 9 to 10 year old boy who Fr. Chris takes closely to. Fr. Chris befriend's the boys family and even visits the family home on at least one occasion. Fr. Chris recognizes the boy as shy and begins to the groom the boy by having long phone conversations with him. JOHN CM DOE is one of the boys seen by staff going up to Fr. Chris' bedroom. The boy is sexually molested by Fr. Chris on multiple occasions.
7th Report of Abuse
Christian Miehls, another young boy at St. Lawrence Catholic School, becomes close with Fr. Chris as well. Fr. Chris takes Christian out to ice cream, smoothies, the beach, and numerous other one-on-one activities. Fr. Chris begins taking Christian home after Christian serves as an altar boy for Fr. Chris. One one occasion, Fr. Chris insists on letting him take Christian home to Christian's mother. The two spend long hours talking at the beach and in Fr. Chris' car. Christian is invited to Fr. Chris' bedroom on multiple occasions and is sexually molested by Fr. Chris many times.
February 1, 2001
Fr. Chris is given a promotion to Pastor of St. Louise de Marillac Catholic Church in Covina, CA.
An associate pastor of St. Louse de Marillac write a letter to Fr. Chris addressing his abhorrent behavior. In the letter the fellow priest notes that Fr Christopher Cunningham continually has young boys to his room in the rectory. He also notes that on one occasion, the priest witnesses a young looking boy leaving Fr. Chris' bedroom late at night.
At St. Louise Fr. Chris continues his practices of regularly giving hugs to teens, wrestling the teen boys, grabbing their breasts and twisting, openly discussing with them masturbation and other sexual topics on church grounds and without parental consent. One parent calls the Archdiocese of Los Angeles abuse hotline to file a complaint.
One staff member complains to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles after witnessing Fr. Chris kissing and petting two young looking boys in the parking lot of a local Dennys one morning. One of the boys was identified as having just turned 18 years old some four months prior. Church officials, however, make no attempt at investigating how long the relationship between Fr. Chris and the boy had been going on. A short investigation ensues to no immediate end.
More Reports of Abuse
Later, two more boys allege being sexually abused by Fr. Chris while he was at St. Louise in Covina, CA. These boys become the first to file lawsuits against Fr. Chris, many years later.
April 28, 2004
Fr. Chris is forcibly removed as pastor from St. Louise de Marillac and re-assigned as associate pastor at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church in Ventura, CA. His instructions for ministry are that he is restricted to working with adults and the sick, only.
September 8, 2005
Fr Christopher Cunningham is removed from ministry completely after being caught in a sexually suggestive position with a minor during a trip to World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany. One witness recalls being told by Fr. Chris that he was caught in his hotel room alone with a young boy and a belt in his hand. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles received hundreds of letters regarding Fr. Chris' behavior in that short time, yet never handed any of the evidence to Plaintiff's attorneys in subsequent lawsuits.