Police: Ex-cop resumed trysts with child-sex victim after prison release

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
Nicholas Bonsall

The child sex victim of a former Baltimore County cop — who has already served time in York County Prison for sexting her photos of his penis — recently told police they continued their sexual relationship after he was released from prison, investigators said.

County officials claim Nicholas Bonsall "groomed" the vulnerable orphan to be his victim when she was 15 and started having sex with her when she was 16.

York County Detective Dana Ward filed new felony charges Monday, Feb. 11, according to court records.

Bonsall was arraigned Tuesday afternoon by District Judge Jennifer Clancy, who set bail at $100,000. He can't be released even if he posts bail because he's being held on a probation-violation detainer.

He is charged with the felonies of disseminating sexually explicit material to a minor/second offense, unlawful contact with a minor, sexual abuse of a minor and possession of child pornography, as well as misdemeanor corruption of a minor, according to court records.

None of the charges is for having Bonsall allegedly having sex with the teen, since the legal age of consent in Pennsylvania is 16. Rather, each charge is tied to Bonsall allegedly possessing explicit photos of the girl and encouraging her to send him those photos, according to court documents.

Bonsall has been in York County Prison since Aug. 16 for allegedly violating his probation by continuing to see the underage girl and for allegedly committing new crimes against her, according to court documents.

Promised marriage? One of his sexual-offender probation conditions was that he have no contact whatsoever with his victim, prosecutors have said.

"Bonsall promised (the teen) they would get married and have children," Ward wrote in charging documents. "(She) feels manipulated and used by Bonsall and is suffering emotional trauma from the incidents."

After his release from prison in April, Bonsall — previously of Jackson Township — moved into an apartment in West York without his wife or kids.

After being found in that apartment Aug. 15, the teen told investigators that Bonsall contacted her after his release and they resumed their relationship, according to his new charging documents. She was 17 by that time.

"They had numerous consensual sexual encounters and Bonsall told (her) to send him sexually explicit photos of herself," Ward wrote in the new documents.

Bonsall and the teen sent each other nude photos, including of their genitals, as well as sexually explicit texts, the documents allege.

Police said Bonsall had two cellphones — a phone with no Internet access that was permissible under his probation conditions, and a phone that could connect to the Internet, which Bonsall wasn't allowed to have.

Surprise visit: The York County Detective Bureau began investigating Bonsall after probation officers went to Bonsall's apartment in the 1400 block of Monroe Street for an unannounced visit on Aug. 15 and found the teen there.

"The victim's clothing and personal belongings were scattered throughout the apartment — including in the defendant's bedroom," according to a probation/parole petition seeking to have Bonsall's parole revoked. A hearing on that petition is set for March 25.

He was committed to prison on a probation-violation detainer Aug. 16.

Bonsall, 41, was living with his wife and children in Jackson Township when Northern York County Regional Police learned he was having sex with a local girl and had sexted her photos of his penis and a video of him masturbating.

At the time, he was a detective first-class and had been with Baltimore County Police for 15 years. After the charges were filed, he was fired, that department has said.

He pleaded guilty Jan. 29, 2018, to the third-degree felony of disseminating sexually explicit materials and was sentenced to three to 23 months in York County Prison plus three years' probation.

Faulty memory: During that hearing, he told the presiding judge he couldn't really remember what explicit photos he had texted to the girl but said they came from the internet.

He neglected to mention that some of the photos were of his own penis, which is made clear in court documents.

The probation-violation petition notes the girl is an orphan and states Bonsall "took advantage of that emotional void and abused his position of authority" by targeting her for sex.

The petition also notes that while Bonsall has attended court-required sex-offender treatment, he "had not yet made any notable progress" at the time of his arrest last summer.

Before being arrested again, he worked as a truck driver, was allowed only supervised visits with his children and needed his father to pay his rent, court records state.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.