Mystery Lingers in Parents" Lawsuit against Priest, Diocese

By Mary E. Young
Reading Eagle
August 31 2010

The Rev. Luis A. Bonilla Margarito in 2006

The question of whether the parents of a 19-year-old woman knew she was living with a priest when they filed a lawsuit accusing him of sexually abusing and impregnating her remained unanswered Monday.

Jay N. Abramowitch, the parents' Wyomissing attorney, said he could not talk about the specifics of the suit filed in Berks County Court last week.

Also Monday, District Attorney John T. Adams said no criminal charges will be filed against the Rev. Luis A. Bonilla Margarito because Reading police determined that the young woman was 18 when the relationship began.

Her parents' suit seeks more than $300,000 in damages from Bonilla, the Allentown Diocese, Central Catholic High School, Allentown Diocese Bishop John O. Barres and the diocese's former bishop, Edward P. Cullen.

Abramowitch said parents and other family members can be secondary victims of abuse.

"There's a feeling of breach of trust because the parents are involved in trying to get help for their children," he said. "Instead of getting it, they're getting the opposite.

"There's a lot of guilt that goes along with that. There's a feeling that they put a child in a situation to get help but made it worse."

According to the suit, the parents sent their daughter to Central Catholic in her senior year to get help for attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder and other mental health problems.

Instead of helping her, Bonilla, 41, school chaplain, groomed her for a sexual relationship and alienated her from her parents, the lawsuit alleges. And, it says, the relationship continued after the teen graduated in June 2009. Bonilla was removed in November as chaplain and pastor of St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church.

The suit also alleges that the parents told the school they suspected Bonilla was sexually abusing their daughter, but the school assured them that the priest was acting appropriately.

Contact Mary Young: 610-478-6292 or


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