Abuse Victims Urged to Come Forward

By Karin Mallett
August 30 2010

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -- A support group for victims of abuse by priests wants others to know they're not alone.

On Monday, the group urged victims to come forward and said there may be a connection to a priest who was named in a lawsuit filed in Reading just last week.

They stood in front of the offices of the Allentown Diocese.

SNAP stands for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

"No parents should ever have this happen to them," said group member Mark Rozzi.

Rozzi said he was abused by a priest as a young boy in Berks County. He said he knows the parents of the 19-year-old who had a child with Father Luis Bonilla.

Bonilla was the chaplain at Reading's Central Catholic High School when he met the teen and acknowledged having an inappropriate relationship with her.

In November 2009, he was removed from his post.

"I just see what the parents are going through," said Rozzi. "Just to see that their daughter had been taken away from them."

In the lawsuit, the 19-year-old's parents said the school and the diocese should have done more to protect their daughter.

SNAP said it believes there is more to the story.

"We are hoping and reaching out to the people in Reading and hoping they will come forward if something has happened to them, or if they even suspect that he has done something he shouldn't have with another child," said Karen Polesir.

We tried to track down Father Bonilla for his response to the claims, but have been unable to reach him.

The Allentown Diocese said its policy is to encourage anyone with any knowledge of inappropriate behavior or sexual abuse to come forward and that the allegations are immediately reported to police.

"Just the fact that history has shown that they have more than one victim would lead us to believe that it is a possibility," said Polesir.

SNAP was founded in 1989 and said since then, it's helped thousands of survivors.


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