Priest Accused of Having Sexual Contact with a Teenager

SCRANTON — A priest of the Diocese of Scranton was arrested for allegedly having sexual contact with a teenager.

The Rev. Philip Altavilla, 48, was arraigned on Thursday.

Fr. Altavilla is the pastor at St. Peter’s Cathedral in downtown Scranton.  The cathedral is the main church of the Diocese of Scranton.

Fr. Altavilla was arrested and charged Thursday night for inappropriate contact he allegedly had with a teenage girl in 1998 when he was the pastor at a church in west Scranton.

Altavilla was charged with indecent assault and corruption of minors.

Earlier this week, a young woman came forward saying Altavilla touched her inappropriately when she was 13 years old in 1998. The young woman says Altavilla touched her feet and legs and in a phone call made this week    court papers say Altavilla told the victim he has a foot fetish and he knew touching her was inappropriate.

After Altavilla’s arrest, Bishop Joseph Bambera released this statement:

“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.”

Officials from the diocese say Fr. Altavilla has been removed as pastor of St. Peter’s Cathedral and his priestly duties have been suspended.

Fr. Altavilla is free on bail.

Some parishioners of the priest are shocked at the allegations.

40 comments

  • Melanie

    Check out pahomepage my story is posted there about my abuser who got off with the help of hisBFF Altivilla, a cowardly bishop who hides in residence and refuses to speak with anyone regarding a problem with a priest. The only reason my abuser got off is because the goose that lays the golden eggs of the diocese gave up his bank and turned his casino over to his daughter. 3 weeks after my husband converted to Catholicism we were both thrown out of Immaculate Conception. Leaving a self admitted pervert out on unsecured bail is a travisty of justice. If any lay person did that we would be sitting in a cell because b will would be so high no one could afford it. WAKE UP PEOPLE!

  • Marty Fay

    Second Comment By Me,, I also was a Manager at A Factory In Scranton, Pa. I am not a Truck Driver, But One Day,, Had to Move a 24 Foot Truck..The Plant Was Behind Saint Peters In Scranton, Watched the Food Caters Come and Go. And the Lincolns and Caddalics Come out of there Garage. But,, Ran Over There Garbage,, With Truck,, 3 plastic Bags of empty Booze Botttles! I Did Clean It Up,, Myself.
    You Are Welcome,, Fr.Quinn!

  • Marty Fay

    I was an Alter Boy Foe 10 years, and a 12 year student at a Catholic School.
    One day, in the late 1960s, Had to Serve a 6:00Am Mass.
    Priest Came In, Grabbed Bottle of Alter Wine,, Chugged a Half of Bottle Down. He,, Did that In Front Of Me,, Like I was a Non Person.
    I Trust in God,, Catholic Church,, I think NOT!

  • Marty Fay

    I was an Alter Boy for Eight Years at a Catholic Church. And a Twelve Year Student At A Catholic School. One Day,, In the late 1960s I had a 6:00 Am Mass. Priest Came In. Grabbed Bottle Of Alter Wine and Chugged Half of It Down, Before Mass. Did this in front of me, like I was not even there!
    Was at Saint Rose Church In Carbondale. Pa.
    I Trust in God,, But, The Catholic Church,,,Not,,,,,
    Marty Fay,, Scranton, Pa.

  • Schuylkill County

    Really Come On has it ever crossed your minds why she was quiet hmmmm…,,.Lets see he was a priest they are suppose to do no wrong what he did was wrong when Anyone is a Victim they are threatened ,and told no one would believe them ……. It’s sad how everyone is saying Why did she wait well why did he do what he did didn’t he ADMIT he has a Foot Fetish………..

  • Sean

    As someone who has suffered through such things and knowing this priest personally. its BS . someone doesnt wait all these years to say things like this. BEEN HERE SO I KNOW. and not one person in this town took any action except to accuse my mom of trying to mind wash me to say it. which was more bs . I smell a woman needing money and ruining a life to do so. Thou shall not bear false witness!!!! its a plague of people just making something out of nothing AGAIN.Well you can lie all you want on earth But when you die you stand before God who is “perfect Truth” and how are you going to lie then???how are you going to lie in the face of the all knowing. And from all who were really abused we condemn thee. As you make it impossible for the truly abused to get help they so desperately need!! The abused dont need financial comp they need protection. So why say now unless you stand to gain as you dont need protecting like I did.This priest was a huge comfort to us when my grandfather died.Now who is abusing who??It is morally bankrupt to falsify abuse,..you make it that much harder for the truly abused to be saved. SHAME ON YOU!!!!Hell is full of liars trying to get money for nothing!

  • Cathy

    I educated 3 children in Catholic School for several years, one of which Philip Altavilla spent a short time. It makes me sick to think of the thousands of dollars spent to have a pedephile have a direct influence on my children.

  • Dennis

    Touched her feet and legs sixteen years ago? Has she been having nightmares of tight-fitting shoes?? I am in no way condoning the well-documented sexual misconduct that has plagued the Catholic Church–but this one is a tad ridiculous. I smell lawyer and someone trying to cash in with an out-of-court settlement. Call me a skeptic but this one has a certain odor.

    • Emanuele J. DeStefano, Esquire

      The substantial passage of time and the nature of what has been disclosed as the inappropriate conduct calls for scrutiny. I in no manner seek to minimalize any form of sexual impropriety – I have a wife and 6 daughters – but I am quite aware of the less than Christian attitude that is bestowed upon Catholics especially priests. Hard to recall what one did 16 years ago. Memories fade and witnesses die off.

      • CCKM

        While I get your point, doesn’t matter who someone is, matters what they are, more should come forward if this is something he was in the habit of doing. Years ago; Covenant House’s priest in NYC who ran a “safe haven” for troubled youth and runaways was caught molesting teens for years. Horriflying. It is unfortunate that the Catholic Church seems to be the focus of immorality these days. It is because of the nature of celibacy involved that it might appear more rampant. There has been plenty of moral misconduct across the board with leaders of other sects of Christianity where youth was involved.

      • Emanuele J, DeStefano, Esquire

        I do not seek to defend the accused, merely to afford him the same rights of any other accused. If the charges are valid, it is extrremely reprehensible as the priesthood is one of the places children are taught to seek shelter in the event of inapropriate behavior by an adult. Persons of trust must understand the responsiblity that comes with the office. Each time I read about inapropriate conduct by a teacher or a person of the cloth, cringe. Children need a safe harbor.

    • newfie1955

      Denis, I totally agree, I knew Fr.Phil and honestly “I thought he walked on water”Why wait so long to come forward????? Who are we to judge, I just pray for Fr. Phil . that if he did he will get the necessary help he needs, and I also pray for the girl . that she will do the right thing and just be honest. God bless them both and hopefully he will have an honest judge.i don’t think to much of judges , when you read of so many high profile people who get off with murder,I think to myself ‘ how can they sleep at night ” It is all about the Almighty dollar, money is the rot of all evil.Fr.Phil “my prayers are with you “

      • newfie1955

        Sorry I meant money is the root of all evil, I have a problem with double letters, I have to wait a few minutes before typing the second letter

  • Thomas Walsh Jr.

    Perverted Pedophile Molesters & Pimps of the Roman Catholic Church strikes yet again. Whom there is overwhelming, credible evidence against. They just participate in the hiding & moving around of child rapist priests, from diocese, to diocese, from state to state and even to other countries, so these priests could rape again.& again. When I see a church closing down due to lack of parishioners its a Great feeling knowing others are waking up.

  • jay

    probably addicted to looking at naughty pictures online. He’s just acting out what’s been pumped into his head. Garbage in garbage out. See if our local morning talkshow host will defend another one of her fallen heros.

  • Mary

    This profession has been a hideout for men with these tendencies for a long time. No one questioned their authority and they could live in society with a degree of respect that would not have been present in their lives anywhere else. Please find a way to weed them out and I commend the current bishop for his no nonsense approach. Although a little to let for too many. Pray for the many victims.

  • Real Person with eyes open!

    I am a realist. I hate when people put priests, judges, cops on the higher up. Well in fact we are all human but what I’ve come to know most cops are corrupt so how (getting friends outa tickets or not pulling them over) I do think we need regional police force. Judges well hmmm that one is easy to make fun of here in Luzerne County.

    And priests when I got married in the Roman Catholic church my priest was half drunk smelled so bad of alcohol and yet he was asking me the night before of my sins in confession. Hmmmm well wake UP PEOPLE, this world is more screwed up everyday. I believe we should go back to the old days where our forefathers would clean house but instead we just believe in jails. Well current system ain’t working. This is my opinion.

  • Mark Mcneely

    No lie… you take an alcoholic from 1998 and you get him no treatment, guess what in 2014 if he hasn’t killed himself or someone else he’s probably still an alcoholic. I don’t commend the Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain attitude the church seems to have for these individuals and shuttles them along to another clueless Parrish to sink or swim. I don’t claim to know what to do for them but putting your heads in the sand and praying for someone alcoholic or other sickness hardly even kept a drunk sober. Just my humble opinion…. M

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