Attorneys Agree to Preserve Evidence in Priest Abuse Case

By Terrie Morgan-besecker
The Times-Tribune
September 4, 2014

Attorneys for the Rev. Philip Altavilla and the woman who claims he indecently assaulted her as a teenager have agreed to preserve certain evidence from his dismissed criminal case for possible use in a civil lawsuit the woman filed.

The agreement, approved Tuesday by Lackawanna County Judge Terrence Nealon, calls for the district attorney’s office and Scranton police to retain a photo album that reportedly contains pictures of the alleged victim’s feet and shoes. Police will also preserve copies of wiretap tapes.

Joseph Lenahan, attorney for the woman, filed a writ of summons last month notifying the Rev. Altavilla and the Diocese of Scranton that she intends to file a lawsuit. Mr. Lenahan confirmed the suit is related to criminal charges filed against the Rev. Altavilla for allegedly indecently touching the woman in 1998, when she was 13.

The Rev. Altavilla was charged with several offenses, including indecent assault and corruption of a minor, in connection with the incident. The case was dismissed by Judge Michael Barrasse on Aug. 1 because the statute of limitations had expired.

Concerned that evidence in the criminal case would be destroyed, Mr. Lenahan filed a motion seeking a court order to preserve certain items that might be beneficial to the civil suit. He recently met with attorneys for the Rev. Altavilla and the district attorney’s office and worked out the agreement.

The Rev. Altavilla was suspended by the diocese after his arrest. William Genello, spokesman for the diocese, said the Rev. Altavilla remains on a leave of absence.

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