Two Maryland Men Listed Among 10 Most Dangerous Priests - Southern Maryland Headline News

Two Maryland Men Listed Among 10 Most Dangerous Priests


By ASHLEY M. LEWIS

BALTIMORE (Nov. 12, 2008)—Two Maryland men were listed among the 10 most dangerous priests in a report released Tuesday by a sexual abuse support group.

The list was released at a news conference held outside of the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront hotel, where hundreds of bishops were attending the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops fall general assembly.

Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the group considers the 10 priests to be exceptionally dangerous because they have had numerous victims, have recently been accused of child sex crimes and continue to have access to children.

The list also includes priests from Arizona, New York, Illinois, California, Texas and Missouri. None of the priests on the list have been criminally convicted, according to Blaine's group.

"We believe the bishops have not done enough to protect the children," Blaine said. "The bishops should be taking more action to put these men in jail. If they can't be put in jail, bishops should ensure that they're in some type of treatment facility."

Fernando Cristancho, a priest who worked in Maryland and Virginia, is one of the two Maryland priests on the group's list.

In October, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals upheld a judge's ruling giving custody of Cristancho's triplets to Dalia Fernandez, the children's surrogate mother. According to the opinion, Child Protective Services concluded that sexual abuse of two of the triplets was "indicated."

The opinion said Cristancho denied any sexual abuse occurred.

The second Maryland priest, A.J. Cote, who worked in Germantown, was charged in July with one count of child abuse. His jury trial is scheduled for March.

Earlier this year, Pope Benedict XVI talked to bishops about the Roman Catholic Church's sex abuse scandal, saying it caused deep shame for the church, as well as pain for victims. But victims' advocates want more.

"Maryland is a pedophile-friendly state," said Frank Dingle, of Catonsville, a member of the survivors group. "The bishops' and Pope's words have an impact, but if the bishops took action it would have even more of an impact. More needs to be done."

Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests is the nation's oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. There are more than 8,000 members across the country.

The group is urging bishops to publish a 21-point brochure on how parishioners should respond when their priests are accused of child sex crimes. Often, parishioners do not believe the allegations filed against their priests, and rush to support them in highly controversial ways that frighten or intimidate witnesses and victims, Blaine said. The Capital News Service was told by an employee with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that no one could comment until they had seen the report released Tuesday. Calls to the Maryland Catholic Conference were not immediately returned.

Capital News Service contributed to this report.

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