#childabductors | Girl describes chilling encounter with driver in Albany

ALBANY — She just wanted to get home.

On her way, a stranger nearly twice her age approached her in a dark SUV, asked her for her age and told her she looked too good to be 16.

He followed her to Robin Street and Sheridan Avenue, said he had a gun, tried to force her into his car — and punched her in the face before she escaped.

On Wednesday, the child-sized witness, now 17, told her chilling experience to an Albany County jury just feet away from 33-year-old Harry Bonilla of Guilderland, the man she said tried to abduct her on the night of Dec. 4, 2018.

The teenager, walking home from a night class because she did not have her bus pass, said Bonilla groped her buttocks at one point. 

She had been on the phone as she walked, she said. 

“He said, ‘Put your phone away. I’ve got a gun. I’ll blow your brains out,’” the teenager testified. When she obliged, she said Bonilla demanded, “Now give me your hand.”

As she fought Bonilla’s advances, he said, “Stop making a scene, bitch!” she testified.

Bonilla, a Level 3 or highest risk sex offender,  is on trial before acting Supreme Court Justice Roger McDonough charged with attempted second-degree kidnapping and first-degree sex abuse, both felonies, and third-degree assault, a misdemeanor. 

Bonilla has a 2008 conviction for second-degree kidnapping for abducting a 15-year-old girl and another conviction in 2015 for course of sexual conduct against a 13-year-old girl.

On Wednesday, the 17-year-old girl  described the sequence of events on Dec. 4, 2018 as follows:

At 7:15 p.m., she left her night class at Abrookin Career and Technical school. She walked home along Central Avenue by North Lake Avenue when Bonilla — who she did not know — showed up in his SUV. He said she looked good . He asked her for her age. She said 16,  prompting Bonilla to say she looked “too good” to be 16. She said, “I am.” 

Bonilla said he wanted to speak to her. She said it was too cold to talk. She walked away, toward her home, her headphones on. She phoned some friends just to be safe.

At the corner of Robin and Sheridan, Bonilla suddenly appeared again. 

“I asked him — how did he find me?” she testified. Bonilla said he lived nearby. He wanted to talk to her.

Bonilla walked up, groped her buttocks and said, “That felt nice.” She told him, “Stop — that’s sexual harassment.”

That’s when Bonilla told her he was armed and he would shoot her. 

“He grabbed my wrist and (was) pulling me toward his car. I started dropping my weight (to the ground),” she testified.  “I said, ‘I have a family to get back to. He didn’t care.”

She dropped to the ground to get away. When she stood up, Bonilla punched her in the mouth. She ran away toward Sheridan Preparatory Academy. There, she hid behind a slide. She called her mother who told her to contact police. 

When her mother arrived, “I ran to her in tears,” she testified.

She picked out Bonilla from photos shown to her by police.

“I just wanted to get home. l wasn’t really thinking of anything at the time,” she told Assistant District Attorney Jennifer McCanney.

“When he told me he was going to blow my brains out, that’s what scared me the most,” the witness testified.

On cross-examination, Assistant Public Defender Beau Melita reminded the witness she did not initially tell police that Bonilla told her she looked “too good” to be 16.

“He definitely said it though,” she responded.

Melita played a portion of surveillance video in an effort to show that the witness walked willingly with Bonilla. McCanney, in turn, showed the same video to make the opposite case.

Earlier, Bonilla’s former parole officer, Stephanie Chestfield, testified that Bonilla admitted to her that he hit the girl when she visited him following his arrest in the Albany County jail.

Bonilla told her that he was upset about the way the news media was portraying his case. The parole officer testified that Bonilla told her that on the night of the incident, he was headed to a store when he spotted his future accuser.

Chestfield said Bonilla admitted he spoke to the teenager and claimed it “seemed as if the female was interested” in him.

Bonilla told her he walked with the accuser, held her hand, touched her buttocks and touched her hair — the last part prompting her to spit in his face.

As a result, he told the parole officer, he “popped” her, Chestfield testified. She said Bonilla denied trying to abduct the girl.

The trial continues Thursday when closing arguments could be delivered. The jury would then begin deliberations.

Harry Bonilla, of Guilderland.

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