Catholic school teacher accused of sexually abusing teen student

Posted at 4:10 PM, Feb 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-02 18:36:38-05

He's a long-time educator, and popular coach at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.  But now, Robert Bonner is an accused sexual predator.        

The 48-year-old turned himself into Baltimore County Police this week.

"The teacher has worked at the school in some capacity for many years, he's a trusted adult, he's well known by the community and the students there and the other teachers, so this was somebody that this was not expected from," Baltimore County Police Officer Jennifer Peach said.

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Court documents shed more light on what the teen student claims happened.  According to the paperwork, Bonner and the student shared numerous inappropriate text messages and conversations, and at one point the Middle River man even asked the student "to have a closer relationship with him."         

Then, two weeks ago, Bonner allegedly took things farther.

"There were two occasions in January where the student was in a semi-private situation with the teacher, during those two incidents the teacher had inappropriate touching outside of the clothing of the student," Peach said.

Arrest documents say Bonner tried to "manipulate the student's uniform in order to expose parts of the student's body" while inside his office with the door closed.  Then the next day, Bonner told the student to go into a storage closet with him and he "embraced the victim," not letting the student pull away.  That was followed by more unwanted touching.

"That was brought to the attention of an adult, who then contacted the police department," Peach said.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore says Bonner was suspended from his job at the school last week.  Officers say he is cooperating with the investigation, but did not admit to all of the accusations.

Archdiocese officials said Bonner has been employed here at the school for a total of 13 years. 

He worked as a teacher, sports coach and part-time assistant athletic director, most recently teaching physical education for both the elementary and high schools.

In a statement, the Archdiocese says in part, "All Archdiocesan employees and volunteers who work with children are screened for criminal histories and the national sex offender registry, and go through training on how to recognize, prevent, and report child abuse."           

Officials say Bonner went through the screening and training in 2011 and again in 2014, adding both the Archdiocese and the school are committed to protecting children and helping abuse victims heal.

"There's always potential for other victims,” Peach said.  “It's unusual for this to just be the first time anything like this has ever happened."

If you've been victimized, or know something about potential abuse, call Baltimore County Police at 410-307-2020.

Bonner is facing four charges including sex abuse of a minor and second degree assault.  He was released on $25,000 bond, instructed to not have any contact with the juvenile victim.           

ABC2 News reached out to Bonner’s lawyer for comment, but have not heard back. 

A preliminary hearing is set for Feb. 24.

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