Former Los Alamos Pastor Paul Cunningham
Citing the lack of a prior criminal history, Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer sentenced former Los Alamos pastor Paul Cunningham to 12 months in jail followed by two years of supervised probation.
Cunningham, 54, was facing 4.5 years in jail for his crimes, but after he pleaded guilty to one count of possessing child pornography and one count of distributing it, the District Attorney’s Office recommended the lighter sentence and the judge agreed. According to court reports, Cunningham will serve his sentence in the Los Alamos County Jail at 2500 Trinity Dr.
Police initially arrested Cunningham in June on San Ildefonso Road and charged him with two counts of sexual exploitation of children. According to court documents, investigators executed a search warrant at Cunningham’s home at 4732 Brisa Del Bosque and found more than 400 explicit images of children and nine pornographic videos on computers belonging to Cunningham. Twenty-two of the images had been shared through several social media sites.
Cunningham was caught after authorities received information in February from a detective working in the Westminster Police Department in Colorado. He was investigating a case in his jurisdiction related to child pornography and in the process found that an IP address belonging to Cunningham was suspected of sending child pornography related material to a subject in Colorado.
The detective provided a zip drive of the material to Los Alamos County Sheriff Marco Lucero and Deputy Sheriff John Horne who turned it over to Los Alamos police. Police launched an investigation, which led to Cunningham’s arrest.
Cunningham served for 14 years at First Baptist Church of Los Alamos at 2200 Diamond Dr. FBCLA Youth Pastor Mike Brake provided the following statement at the time and on behalf of the church:
“First Baptist Church of Los Alamos was notified on March 5 by Paul Cunningham that he was under investigation. He was immediately placed on leave and removed from all duties. As of March 31 Paul Cunningham was no longer employed by the church.
“To the best of our knowledge, the alleged actions for which he has been arrested were part of his life outside the church and to date, law enforcement has not communicated to FBCLA that any crime or criminal behavior occurred within the church or its ministries.
“These alleged actions in no way reflect the character and mission of FBCLA. We were grieved to learn about the investigation and charges filed against Paul Cunningham, but much more importantly we are concerned for the safety and protection of minors in our church and community.”
In addition to ordering Cunningham to serve a year in jail and two years of probation, Judge Sommer at Friday’s hearing also ordered Cunningham to register as a sex offender upon his release from jail.