PHILADELPHIA – The Vatican will determine whether to defrock a priest accused of fathering a child with a high school graduate, a relationship that became public after the girl's parents captured the couple on a video camera secretly set up in the parents' basement.
Meanwhile, the Berks County district attorney said Tuesday his office won't press charges against the Rev. Luis A. Bonilla Margarito because a police investigation determined that the relationship started when the girl was 18.
Over the weekend, the church began putting together paperwork for the process known as "removal from the clerical state," popularly known as defrocking, said Matt Kerr, a spokesman for the Diocese of Allentown. The information will be sent to the Vatican for a decision. A timetable was not known.
Bonilla, 41, is not on assignment and has not functioned as a priest since November, when the diocese found out about the relationship, Kerr said.
Upon learning of the relationship, the diocese notified the prosecutor's office, Kerr said. The church initiated the defrocking process after "new information" was learned last week, but Kerr declined to say what that information was. Kerr also said he could not specify what documents were being turned over to the Vatican as part of the church investigation.
The Berks County criminal investigation was closed after police determined that the relationship began when the girl was 18, Berks County District Attorney John T. Adams said.
However, her parents filed a lawsuit Thursday, alleging that Bonilla had a sexual relationship with their daughter while he was the chaplain of Reading Central Catholic High School and she was a senior there.
They became suspicious and installed a camera in their basement, where Bonilla and their daughter were spending a lot of time. The camera recorded the couple having sex in November 2009, after she had graduated, according to the suit.
Bonilla and the teen are now evidently living with each other, and she has given birth to a girl. Bonilla has declined comment about the lawsuit. A telephone listing in his name has been disconnected.
Bonilla was removed from his dual posts as chaplain and pastor of St. Joseph Church in Reading after the girl's parents took the tape to the diocese. He acknowledged having an "inappropriate relationship" at the time with the teen, according to a diocesan news release.