The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Friday, January 21, 2011
Clergy sex misconduct case moves ahead; Sex abuse victims respond
Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, president of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com)
We are sad that Catholic officials tried to deny these wounded parents their day in court. At the same time, we are grateful that a judge is siding with the likely victimized over the likely wrong-doers.
Powerful, well-educated and allegedly celibate priests can virtually never have healthy, appropriate sexual relationships with Catholic teenagers. We believe that Fr. Bonilla manipulated and sexually exploited a vulnerable girl who was near the legal age of consent. But that’s not important. What’s important is that these allegations will now be heard in a court of law, where hopefully the truth will emerge.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 22 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, email@example.com), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
Judge rules suit against priest accused of impregnating teen can proceed
Holly Herman Reading Eagle 1/21/11
A Berks County judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit Thursday against a former Reading Central Catholic High School priest accused of impregnating a teenager.
Senior Judge Albert A. Stallone said the parents' lawsuit accusing the Rev. Luis A. Bonilla Margarito of causing emotional distress and alienating their daughter from them will proceed.
Stallone also denied a request to dismiss allegations against the Allentown Diocese, Reading Central Catholic, Bishop John O. Barres and retired Bishop Edward P. Cullen.
The parents, who live in Muhlenberg Township, filed the suit in August, accusing the defendants of failing to prevent Bonilla from having sex and impregnating their daughter. The parents claim the relationship occurred when Bonilla was assigned to counsel their daughter, then a senior, during the 2008-09 school year.
The parents are seeking at least $300,000 in damages.
Their daughter is now 19 and believed to be living in Norristown with Bonilla, 41, and their baby.
Diocese officials removed Bonilla from his duties as school chaplain and pastor of St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Reading and sent him to a treatment facility in November 2009 when they learned of the relationship, said Joseph F. Leeson Jr., a Bethlehem attorney representing the diocese.
Diocese officials have said they have taken steps to defrock Bonilla.
Bonilla's lawyer, Kurt B. Geishauser of Reading, argued the parents cannot prove Bonilla caused emotional distress.
"Sexual intercourse between consenting adults does not rise to extreme, outrageous conduct," Geishauser said.
Kenneth Millman, a Wyomissing lawyer representing the parents, said Bonilla continued the relationship after the parents complained to the school and diocese.
Contact Holly Herman: 610-478-6291 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests