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Amid Pa. Wave of Predator Priests, a New Cleric Is Charged

Allentown priest Kevin Lonergan allegedly sent nude pics to teen on Snapchat, groped her
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 22, 2018 8:33 AM CDT
This June 8, 2014, file photo shows Kevin Lonergan, center, celebrating his first Mass at the Church of St. Patrick in Pottsville, Pa.   (Andy Matsko/The Republican Herald via AP)

(Newser) – More than 300 "predator priests" were recently identified by a grand jury report in Pennsylvania. Now, an unrelated case is bringing an Allentown priest into the headlines. Charges of indecent assault and corruption of a minor have been filed against 30-year-old Kevin Lonergan, who served in Allentown's Cathedral Church of St. Catharine of Siena, CNN reports. A 17-year-old girl accused him of sending nude photos to her over Snapchat, as well as inappropriately touching her when they met at another church. The Morning Call reports that Lonergan's alleged electronic correspondence to the minor took place in December and January, while the fondling she accuses him of took place on Feb. 1, District Attorney Jim Martin said at a Tuesday press conference.

Martin noted that on that day at Allentown's St. Francis of Assisi Church, Lonergan allegedly hugged the girl and was aroused while doing so; she says when she tried to pull back, Lonergan grabbed her buttocks. The teen informed a priest at Central Catholic High School what had happened, the school contacted the Diocese of Allentown— which said in a statement it got wind of the allegation in June—and the diocese contacted the DA's office, per Martin. Lonergan was "immediately removed" from his post, the diocese statement says, and "forbidden from all priestly ministry pending the results of the investigation." Lonergan, who lives with his parents, allegedly got the girl's cellphone number from another congregation member, Martin said, per the New York Post. Lonergan was released on $50,000 bail Tuesday. He could face up to nine years in prison if convicted. (Read more Catholic Church sex scandals stories.)

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