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Former priest pleads guilty to coercion and enticement of minor

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Posted at 4:56 PM, Oct 05, 2021

BALTIMORE — A former Harford County priest pleads guilty in court for coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in sexual activity.

65-year-old Fernando Cristancho of Bel Air was in court on Monday.

The victim in this case was 11 when the abuse began. The victim would spend time with Cristancho outside of church not long after he arrived at St. Ignatius in 1999.

The investigation revealed Cristancho would complain of back pain and ask the victim for back rubs. He also offered the victim alcohol, dinner, and even kissed him as if they were in a romantic relationship and told him that he loved him. The victim was also shown pornography including movies of sex acts between males suggesting they do the same sexual activities.

In the summer of 2002, Cristancho went on camping trip with the victim and their family. That started many weekends together. It was during these weekends that Cristancho sexually abused the victim and this happened from 2002 through at least Fall 2003.

In September 2017, Cristancho went to a store to use the photo printing equipment. That is when a store employee noticed inappropriate images, including several photos of naked children. The employee made a report to police. A search warrant was executed at Cristancho’s residence on September 19, 2017. Investigators seized various digital devices, including an iPhone 6s. They found nude photos and videos of four other minor victims, with most of the images being recorded when the victims were less than five years old.

If the Court accepts the plea agreement, Cristancho will be sentenced to between 10 years and 25 years in federal prison. Sentencing is scheduled for December 20, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.

As part of his plea agreement, upon his release from prison, Cristancho must register as a sex offender.