Scranton Priest Facing Child Sex Charges
April 4, 2014
Scranton, Lackawanna County - A well-known priest at Saint Peter's Cathedral in Scranton is facing child sex charges in connection with an incident from 1998. Father Philip Altavilla is the well-known cathedral pastor at Saint Peter's Cathedral, the flagship church in the Diocese of Scranton.
He was arraigned Thursday night on charges of corruption of minors, indecent assault and attempted indecent assault. Scranton police say the investigation began Wednesday.
A woman told detectives she was sexually assaulted by Father Altavilla when she was 13, back in 1998. At that point, Altavilla was pastor of Saint Patrick's Parish. The victim says the inappropriate contact happened after she served as an alter girl at midnight mass. She claims Father Altavilla gave her alcohol in the rectory, and then gave her a ride home. According to court papers, the girl says Father Altavilla pulled over in a church parking lot, began touching the girl's feet, and then ran his hands up her leg.
Today, police had the woman call Altavilla, and according to court documents, he allegedly admitted to providing alcohol to her and knowing she was only 13 at the time. According to the paperwork, Father Altavilla admitted to placing his hand up her leg, calling it "inappropriate."
The Diocese of Scranton released a statement to Eyewitness News, which reads, in part:
"In response to this crime, the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L. Bishop of Scranton, expressed his remorse and personal sorrow for the victim and all affected by the situation. In acknowledging his concern for the Cathedral community as well as the faithful and clergy of the Diocese of Scranton, the Bishop said, “I am both angry and demoralized to think that, yet again, a priest has been involved in such inappropriate, immoral and illegal behavior. It is particularly distressing that the pastor of our Cathedral Parish, who is known to countless numbers of the faithful and has served in so many positions of trust and responsibility in the Diocese of Scranton has betrayed that trust in such a manner.” The Bishop requests that the faithful of the Diocese join him in praying for this victim and all who are impacted by sexual abuse."
Father Altavilla was arraigned by a magistrate Thursday by a magistrate in Lackawanna County. He was released on $75,000 unsecured bail.