PA Court Says Priest Who Groped Girl, Sent Nude Photos Deserves To Do Penance in Prison

A Roman Catholic priest who groped a teenage girl and sent her nude photos and a video of himself wasn’t punished too harshly with a 1- to 2-year prison sentence, a state Superior Court panel has decided.

That ruling, outlined in an opinion by Judge Megan King, comes little more than a year after Lehigh County Judge Maria Dantos told Father Kevin Lonergan, “You have made families feel that church is no longer a safe place.”

King rejected Lonergan’s contention that his punishment, the maximum jail term allowable on his guilty plea to an indecent assault charge, was “manifestly excessive and unreasonable.”

Lonergan, now 32, fondled the 17-year-old girl’s buttocks in February 2018 while serving at the Saint Francis of Assisi Church in Allentown. Before that, he sent the girl multiple inappropriate messages and nude photos of himself and a video that showed him masturbating in a shower, investigators said.

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