Former Md. cop in prison for 'sexting' teen girlfriend in York County
A former Baltimore County police officer sentenced for crimes against his 16-year-old neighbor in York County admitted to sending sexually explicit photos to the girl but claimed he couldn't really remember what those photos contained.
After York County Common Pleas Judge Gregory M. Snyder suggested he try harder to remember, Nicholas C. Bonsall said he found the photos on the internet.
But Bonsall neglected to mention to the judge that some of the photos were of his own penis, which is made clear in court documents. Those documents state he also sent the girl video of himself masturbating.
Bonsall, 40, of Mineral Drive in Jackson Township, pleaded guilty Monday, Jan. 29, to the third-degree felony of disseminating sexually explicit materials to a minor. Charges of unlawful contact with a minor and corruption of a minor were dismissed.
As part of Bonsall's negotiated plea agreement, Snyder sentenced the former detective first class to three to 23 months in York County Prison, followed by three years of probation.
No-contact order: Snyder ordered the ex-cop to have no contact whatsoever with any minors, except for his own 4- and 7-year-old children, with whom he may only have supervised contact for now. That means an adult family member must be present to monitor his interactions with his children, the judge said.
Bonsall's defense attorney, Dean Reynosa, had asked that his client be allowed unsupervised contact with his kids.
"Given the circumstances, I'm just uncomfortable with unsupervised contact," Snyder said.
The judge said he was impressed with the "intelligent and thoughtful" demeanor of Bonsall's victim, who spoke in court Monday.
The girl wrote a victim-impact letter to the court that read, in part, "At first I was very hurt by what happened. But as time went on I began to forgive him. ... I do not want to go through life hating him."
Victim forgives him: The teen — with whom police said Bonsall was having sex — wrote that "everyone makes mistakes" and that "everyone deserves a second chance."
"Deep down, I know he is a good man," she wrote. "Therefore I forgive him and what happened."
On Monday, Cpl. Shawn Vinson, director of media relations for Baltimore County Police, said Bonsall no longer works for the department.
Bonsall had been a Baltimore County officer for 15 years and was a detective first class when he was suspended without pay because of the York County criminal case, Vinson has said.
The background: Northern York County Regional Police began investigating in April, after the 16-year-old victim's friend alerted them to a sexual relationship between the girl and Bonsall, according to charging documents filed by police in mid-July.
Police interviewed the 16-year-old, who said she and Bonsall started having contact through social media sites Facebook and Snapchat in June 2016 and that they started sending nude photos of themselves to each other when she was 15 years old.
The teen confirmed she and Bonsall started having sex sometime around her 16th birthday and said he sent her "a lot" of photos — as well as the explicit videos — of himself, according to court documents.
Forensic analysis of Bonsall's two cellphones found evidence of texts that contained sexually explicit or obscene images, documents state.
'Daily contact': Police said Bonsall and the girl had daily contact, including before he left for work and late at night in his driveway.
"Bonsall would inform her when his wife was not home so they could meet up," police wrote in court documents.
One of Bonsall's cellphones showed a search he did just before police began investigating, for "does deleting my Snapchat account get rid of saved ... messages in the other person's chat," documents state.
Not child rape: Bonsall's victim was 16 when they started having sex, and she consented, according to documents.
In Pennsylvania, a minor who is 16 or 17 years old can legally consent to having sex with an adult as long as that adult has no position of authority over them.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.