Pennsylvania priest charged with indecent assault

Pennsylvania priest charged with indecent assault August 25, 2018

From Pixabay/Public Domain

This didn’t get much attention when the story broke earlier in the week, but it’s worth noting because the case is so new.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: 

An Allentown Diocese priest was charged Tuesday in Lehigh County with indecent assault and corruption of minors after being accused of inappropriately touching a 17-year-old girl and sending nude images of himself to her.

The accusation against the Rev. Kevin Lonergan, a 30-year-old priest from Pottsville, is new. He is not among the 301 priests listed in a statewide grand jury report released last week; according to a statement Tuesday by the Allentown Diocese, Lonergan was accused after the grand jury investigation ended.

Lonergan most recently was assistant pastor at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena in Allentown, the diocese said. He was ordained in 2014, according to information on the diocese’s website, and in 2016 was assistant pastor of St. Jane Frances de Chantal in Easton. Lonergan’s father is a deacon in the diocese.

Upon hearing of the allegation in June, the diocese reported it to District Attorney Jim Martin’s office and removed Lonergan from his assignment, the diocese said in its statement. Lonergan is “forbidden from all priestly ministry pending the results of the investigation,” the diocese said.

Both Martin and the diocese said Allentown Bishop Alfred Schlert wanted to immediately make public the diocese’s action but, on Martin’s request, waited for the criminal investigation to run its course.

“Bishop Schlert wanted to act very quickly and transparently,” Martin said.

Martin announced the charge at a 3 p.m. news conference, saying Lonergan and the girl met at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Allentown. Lonergan, he said, sent the girl nude photos through the social media site Snapchat. Martin said they communicated electronically in December and January…

…The girl told investigators Lonergan also embraced her Feb. 1 at St. Francis and that as Lonergan pressed against her, she could feel he had an erection. As she tried to pull away from him, Martin said, Lonergan grabbed the girl by the buttocks.

The girl told a priest at Central Catholic High School about Lonergan and, Martin said, that priest alerted the bishop’s office.

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