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More Questions Raised About Priest’s Behavior

SCRANTON — While Roman Catholic priests in our area are committed to Holy Week these days. A priest in the Diocese of Scranton may be facing more trouble.

Court papers filed by Lackawanna County detectives focus on the questionable behavior of the former pastor of Saint Peter’s Cathedral already facing charges.

Newswatch 16 obtained a copy of a search warrant Scranton Police filed after they went to the rectory at St. Peter’s Cathedral earlier this month to arrest Father Phil Altavilla. Investigators need the warrant to search the priest’s computer and phone.

A search warrant approved by a magistrate in Lackawanna County says more about what Fr. Phil Altavilla told his alleged victim. The warrant describes a recorded conversation with her just before the priest’s arrest on child sex abuse charges.

Earlier this month, the woman came forward saying one of the most popular priests in the Diocese of Scranton inappropriately touched her when she was 13. She said it all happened in a parking lot in west Scranton after Christmas Eve midnight mass in 1998.

According to the search warrant, more than fifteen years later, Fr. Altavilla explained to his alleged victim that he touched her legs and feet because he has a foot fetish.

The paperwork reads, “he took photographs of the victim`s feet, in addition to photos of other teenage girls’ feet. He kept the photos in a bag at his residence.”

That residence is the Rectory at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Scranton, where Altavilla lived before his arrest. Police said those pictures could mean that there are more victims.

The search warrant also sheds light on more of Fr. Altavilla’s questionable behavior.

The search warrant says, “Altavilla also admitted that he uses the internet to research videos and images depicting women being strangulated, given chloroform, and then sexually assaulted.”

The priest willingly gave up his computer, Ipad, and cell phone for investigators to search. Investigators will wait to see if what they find on those devices leads them to more charges against Altavilla or more victims.

Scranton Police detectives said it may take weeks for investigators to search Altavilla’s computer and phone.

They have not said if they’ve identified any more potential victims.

Altavilla has been removed as Pastor at St. Peter’s Cathedral. He is due in court later this month.

23 comments

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  • Melanie

    Just my opinion….revoke his UNSECURED bail and put him general population in the county jail….sure would save the cost of a trial and save other innocent victims by not allowing stay free to feed his sicko perver.

  • Andy

    Can’t help but notice there’s no one making excuses or blaming reporters in the story about the choir director raping young boys. Hmmm….

  • the realist

    For some nut to say a woman can’t report the news because her ex-husband once made the news is like saying Catholics can’t go to church because some priests molest children. Nonsense.

  • tom

    Interesting to think what it was like in say-the year 1920.That’s when people thought of priests as Godlike.bet some got away with alot.And people would be afraid to speak out,fearing not going to Heaven.

  • Steve

    You have to admire how the blind will follow their priests no matter the “sin”. Were this some homeless or druggie person everyone would be condemning. It’s a priest so its the media or a reporter slandering.

  • Cathy

    The sad part of this whole thing is if this were anyone other than a priest they would go to jail, but the catholic church will ship him off to another state where he can do the same thing again. Send him to jail and let him be punished like any other pervert.

  • Furtive Bulwark

    Glass houses, the Anchor’s x-husband was arrested for similar charges.

    I always find it amazing how those who love to condemn others are the first to cry and whine for mercy when it’s them in trouble. Touching a girl is illegal, looking at sick stuff on the internet is not. No one here is perfect. get over yourselfs

    • nepawoods

      “I always find it amazing how those who love to condemn others are the first to cry and whine for mercy when it’s them in trouble.”

      When it’s them in trouble, or one of their priests. I agree, the same people whining for mercy and forgiveness for Altavilla are the ones who would be calling for just punishment were it a non-Christian who’d done the same

    • dee

      Glass houses? So, she’s not allowed to report on child abuse stories anymore because her husband was charged? You know that’s her JOB, right?

    • the realist

      Bulwark, are you telling us you like to look at sick stuff on the computer? Nowwonder your defending this guy. Seems he does too. BTW love how your the only one giving your comments a thumbs up. Feel sorry for you.

  • PB

    Interesting the amount of coverage stories like this get on channel 16 compared to others channels. Surely, channel 16 enjoys the role of devil’s avocate during this Holy Week. SAD!

    • Furtive Bulwark

      So Steve, I guess you never looked at a picture of a naked girl and lusted her, never looked at a woman on the street and lusted her. Yeah :/ Me neither…..

      • Steve

        Well, Fertive I’m NOT A PREIST. I’ve also never got off watching a woman being choked, chloroformed and sexually assaulted. That priest had that stuff and other disgusting items in his home and computer. You still want to defend him?

      • R.J.

        @ fertive bulwark I think all “normal” men lust after women. It’s what God made us to do. However, priests aren’t seen as mere men. Society puts them above and expects godly traits of them. It’s unnatural to ask a mere man to try and be anything but that. Although, I’m pretty sure that lusting after children is wrong, priest or not.

  • nepawoods

    Well, this can’t be a surprise to anyone. These things are never isolated incidents.

    Nor will it be a surprise that his supporters will keep supporting him. It’s all a big conspiracy to ruin a good priest’s reputation, right?

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