ALLENTOWN - A Pennsylvania couple secretly videotaped a Roman Catholic priest having sex with their 18-year-old daughter in the basement of their home and are now suing, saying he got her pregnant.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday in Berks County Court, alleges that the Rev. Luis A. Bonilla Margarito carried on a sexual relationship with the teenager while he was chaplain of Reading Central Catholic High School and she was a senior there.
The girl's parents became suspicious and installed a camera in their basement, where Bonilla and the teenager were spending large amounts of time. The camera recorded the couple having sex in November 2009, after she graduated, according to the suit.
Her parents took the video to the Diocese of Allentown, which removed Bonilla from his dual posts as chaplain and pastor of St. Joseph Church in Reading when he acknowledged an "inappropriate relationship" with the teenager, according to a diocesan news release from last November.
Bonilla was sent to a treatment facility but "continued to have intimate contact with [the teenager] during this time period and ultimately impregnated her," the suit said. She recently gave birth to a girl.
Bonilla, 41, has left the treatment facility and now lives in Norristown. He could not immediately be reached for comment.
"He has no assignment, and he has not functioned as a priest since November," diocesan spokesman Matt Kerr said Friday.
Bonilla was named chaplain of Central Catholic in 2008 and befriended the teenager, then 17, at the beginning of her senior year. Bonilla "began to groom [the teenager] for a sexual relationship," the suit said, knowing that she had mental-health problems, had been abused sexually by an adult man, and was "susceptible to being manipulated."
Her parents began to suspect a relationship and reported their concerns to administrators at Central Catholic, "but were told their suspicions were unfounded and that nothing could be done to separate [the teenager] and Father Bonilla because he was her spiritual adviser and/or counselor," according to the suit.
Bonilla also took steps to alienate the teenager from her parents, telling her that she was 18 and no longer had to obey them, the suit said.
The suit, filed by Wyomissing lawyer Jay Abramowitch, alleges that diocesan officials knew about the relationship but were "so concerned about their own reputation and/or financial interests that they failed to protect [the teenager] from Father Bonilla."
The parents are seeking punitive damages for breach of fiduciary duty, infliction of emotional distress, and gross negligence. The suit names as defendants Bonilla, the diocese, the high school, Allentown Bishop John Barres, and former Bishop Edward Cullen.
Kerr said the diocese had not been served with the suit, and declined to comment.