Another Pennsylvania Catholic Priest Charged Just Days After Historic Grand Jury Report

Not a week since a score of Pennsylvania Roman Catholic priests were named and pilloried for decades of alleged sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children, another priest stands accused of sending nude pictures of himself to a girl twice his junior; then a year later cornering and then molesting her inside the sacred church's sacristy.

Kevin Lonergan, 30, was brought before a Lehigh County Magisterial judge on Tuesday. The man was accused of taking advantage of an innocent, according to the affidavit of probable cause document obtained by Newsweek.

Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin charged Lonergan, of Pottsville, Pennsylvania—who served as assistant pastor at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena in Allentown—for committing felonious corruption of minors and the misdemeanor of indecent assault.

The criminal case is unrelated to the grand jury report furnished by the state's Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

The victim, referred to in the court documents as "Jane Doe" (who was a member of the church) apparently offered her phone number to the Diocese of Allentown priest last August.

From there, Father Lonergan "initiated communications through text messages," the affidavit states. The texts advanced to sexts as Lonergan allegedly began "communicating in a sexual manner" by December 2017.

At that time, prosecutors allege the priest, who was 29-years-old at the time, adopted the erasable peer-to-peer social application Snapchat as his medium of choice.

"Lonergan sent Jane Doe nude images of himself through Snapchat," according to the affidavit.

On February 1, investigators learned that Jane Doe was targeted after participating in a Confirmation Mass at St. Francis of Assisi. The youth told them that Lonergan was participating in the Mass.

At its conclusion, Lonergan allegedly went in for the kill.

"After this Mass, Jane Doe was cleaning up and taking items back to the Sacristy," the affidavit reads.

catholic priest disney world child abuse
A Catholic worshiper holds a cross during a mass for Ash Wednesday, at Beijing’s government-sanctioned South Cathedral, on February 14. On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Grand Jury noted in a report that Father Edward George Ganster, who was accused by at least three people of child abuse, went on to work at Walt Disney World. GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images

When Doe was returning an item to the room, she claimed Lonergan lingered in the corridor.

"Lonergan was in the hallway and she could not get around him," the victim claimed in the affidavit.

It was then that the accused man reportedly "asked for a hug."

Lonergan put his arms around her, but it wasn't the hug that caused the victim to "pull away," the affidavit states. The priest, Doe recalled, was allegedly sexually aroused during this hug. The victim stated to prosecutors, according to the document, that "she felt his erect penis against her."

Backing up and "pulling away" didn't work, she said.

Lonergan allegedly "pulled her closer and slid a hand down to her buttocks and grabbed her buttocks over her clothes," the affidavit suggests.

Months passed, but by June 7, Lonergan "was prohibited from the exercise of public ministry" by decree of the Bishop of Allentown Rev. Alfred A. Schlert, D. D., according to Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin's office.

In a statement, Martin stressed that the Diocese "wanted to act very quickly and transparently to report this and to inform the public of Lonergan's removal from active ministry" but that he "held off doing so at my request in order not to compromise our investigation."

Newsweek reached the Diocese of Allentown and they responded with a prepared statement:

"The allegation, involving a 17-year-old female, was received by the Diocese in early June," the diocese said. "Under its longstanding Zero Tolerance Policy, the Diocese immediately reported the allegation to the District Attorney's office. Bishop Alfred Schlert also immediately removed Lonergan from his assignment. He was forbidden from all priestly ministry pending the results of the investigation."

Lonergan was arraigned on Tuesday and was processed through Central Booking. He was quickly set free after posting $50,000 unsecured bail, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office confirmed.

His September 11 date to return to court has also been pushed back, Judge Patricia Engler, who is presiding over the priest's criminal case, told Newsweek.