Pennsylvania priest charged with indecent assault, corruption of a minor, officials say
By Elizabeth Zwirz
August 21, 2018
Pennsylvania authorities on Tuesday announced charges against a Roman Catholic priest who allegedly had “inappropriate sexual contact” with a teenage girl.
Kevin Lonergan, 30, was charged with one count each of corruption of minors and indecent assault, Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin announced.
The charges filed against Lonergan are not related to a grand jury’s report released last week, in which several hundred Roman Catholic priests in the state were accused of sexually abusing more than a thousand children.
Lonergan first came in contact with the 17-year-old girl, identified as Jane Doe, “through his work as a priest,” Martin said.
The pair met in August 2017 prior to a mass held at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Allentown, Pennsylvania, according to Martin. After meeting, someone else at the church gave him her phone number.
From December 2017 through January, the priest allegedly sent messages to the teen’s phone, Martin said.
“Many of these communications were sexual in nature and occurred via Snapchat,” Martin said. “During some of the electronic communications, it is alleged that Lonergan sent nude images of himself to the victim.”
While at the same church on Feb. 1, the teen alleged that Lonergan hugged her and during this, she felt that he “had an erection,” Martin said. She tried to retreat from the embrace, but he allegedly wouldn't let her.
“It is alleged that he continued to pull her towards him and then grabbed her buttocks over her clothing,” Martin said.
The district attorney’s office said they were notified by the dioceses in June of the allegations against Lonergan, prompting an investigation. The priest has been removed public ministry since June 7.
After keeping the alleged encounters private “for several months,” Martin said the teen “courageously came forward, reported it to the priest at Central Catholic, who immediately reported it to the dioceses."