ALLENTOWN, LEHIGH COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A priest who lives in Schuylkill County is facing charges in Lehigh County after the district attorney there said he had sexual contact with a 17-year-old girl.
30-year-old Kevin Lonergan from Pottsville is charged with corruption of minors and indecent assault.
These charges come just one week after the explosive grand jury report naming hundreds of priests accused of sex abuse in Pennsylvania, but authorities said this arrest is not connected to that report.
Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin said Lonergan met the victim before mass last August at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Allentown.
Martin said from December 2017 through January of this year, the priest sent nude pictures of himself to the girl before things got physical in February.
“It is alleged that the defendant hugged the victim, and while he was embracing her, she attempted to pull away from him,” said Martin. “It is alleged that he continued to pull her towards him and grabbed her buttocks over her clothing.”
No one answered the door at Lonergan’s home on South 25th Street, but a neighbor shared her thoughts on the situation.
“I was just flabbergasted,” said Peggy Jaeger. “I didn’t know what to say, because they’re such a nice family and he’s such a nice young man.”
The Diocese of Allentown said it was made aware of the accusations in June and immediately notified the district attorney’s office and removed Lonergan from his ministry position pending the outcome of this investigation.
“Bishop Schlert wanted to act quickly and transparently to report this to the parishioners of the diocese and inform the public of Lonergan’s removal from active ministry,” said Martin. “He held off at my request, so as not to compromise our investigation.”
Lonergan is free on $50,000 unsecured bail, and the Diocese of Allentown said he’s paying for his own attorney.