|Attorney Fights Lawsuit against Former Central Catholic Priest
By Mary E. Young
November 5, 2010
The parents of a former Central Catholic High School student impregnated by a priest should not be able to sue the Allentown Diocese and Central Catholic High School for more than $300,000 in damages, the attorney representing the diocese and the school argued in Berks County Court Friday.
The only person who would have the right to sue the Rev. Luis A. Bonilla Margarito would be the daughter, who is now 19 and believed to be living in Norristown with the priest and their baby, said Bethlehem attorney Joseph F. Leeson Jr. in asking Senior Judge Albert A. Stallone to throw out the parents' lawsuit.
Diocese officials removed Bonilla from his duties as school chaplain and pastor of St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church and sent him to a treatment facility in November 2009, immediately after learning of a sexual relationship between the two, Leeson said.
Therefore, the suit against the diocese, the school, Bishop John O. Barres and former Allentown Bishop Edward P. Cullen should be dismissed, he said.
The identities of the daughter and the parents are being withheld by the Reading Eagle.
Jay N. Abramowitch, the parent's Wyomissing attorney, argued that the parents have the right to damages because they enrolled their daughter for the 2008-09 school year after being assured by the diocese that they and their daughter would receive counseling and spiritual advice.
The daughter was having problems because she previously had been sexually abused by a relative, Abramowitch said.
The fact that the daughter became pregnant shows the diocese failed to prevent the sexual relationship from continuing after the priest was removed from duty, he said.
The parents have suffered flashbacks, loss of sleep, nausea, humiliation, embarrassment and marital distress, Abramowitch said.
Stallone said he would rule on the diocese's request in a few weeks.
Bonilla has not responded to the suit.
The diocese has started proceedings to defrock him.
Contact Mary Young: 610-478-6292 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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