Charges Against Priest Dismissed

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SCRANTON -- Charges were dismissed in Lackawanna County court against a priest accused of improper acts with a teen girl.

In April, Fr. Philip Altavilla who was the pastor at St. Peter's Cathedral in downtown Scranton was charged with indecent assault and corruption of minors. He was accused of fondling a 13-year-old girl's feet and legs, later admitting he had a foot fetish.

The alleged incident happened in 1998. The charges would fit within the statute of limitations that stand today but not the statute that existed in 1998.

"Had we known then what we know now, the charges probably would not have been filed."

Lackawanna County District Attorney Andy Jarbola says he won't fight a judge's decision to dismiss one of his offices most high-profile cases against Diocese of Scranton priest Philip Altavilla. The charges he faced, indecent assault and corruption of minors, were thrown out because the statute of limitations had run out.

"The victim should know and the public should know that this does not affect the truthfulness of her statement. It doesn't do that. It just means the statute of limitations has run."

Altavilla was accused in April when a former parishioner came forward saying Altavilla fondled her feet and legs when she was 13 years old.

The following investigation uncovered much more about Fr. Altavilla. Police found foot fetish pornography and videos depicting rape on his computer.

"Sure it's a win, it's a legal win for us but it's not a win for Fr. Altavilla because his reputation is ruined. You know, you can't un-ring the bell," said defense attorney Paul Walker.

Underneath the church bells at Altavilla's former parish, St. Peter's Cathedral in downtown Scranton, parishioners had mixed feelings about the case being dismissed.

"This doesn't really rise up to the level of the bad things that are going on in our community right now. The real abuses, abortion, all the promiscuity that's going on. So, I don't know why this really got this big," said Mildred Decelles of Dunmore.

"I'm sure it's good for Fr. Altavilla. I'm not sure really how the church is going to look at it. The fact that he admitted to that type of behavior, I'm sure he will probably never be allowed back in," said Steve Andrichak   of Sterling.

District Attorney Andy Jarbola says his office does not have any plans to file any more charges against Altavilla, but they believe there may be more victims who have not come forward.

Fr. Altavilla is still suspended from the Diocese of Scranton while the church does its own review of his case.



  • Atheist of Lacka. Co.

    This is disgusting. It is rather appalling that this goes on around the world, but more so, right here in The City of Scranton.

  • Eric

    Start taxing the churches and lock these priest up. The Catholic Church is one of the most corrupt organizations on the planet. We should start taking from them. Wake up and realize all religion is bull crap.

  • Garben

    If Jerry Sandusky was a priest he’d be out of jail and never charged because of the statue of limitations

  • Garben

    I’m sorry but with gay I meant the happy one sorry your so quick to judge Belle the world needs more of you

  • Bill

    Why there are ever statutes of limitations on things like Child molestation, Endangerment, corruption of minors, etc! Ridiculous!

  • Joe

    He was guilty? I laugh at all you people who sit on here and condemn a man who was ACCUSED, and NOT CONVICTED. Most of you are what is wrong with society. Most of you need to grow up and evaluate your own lives!

    • Ed

      Joe, he was not acquitted of this crime against a minor child. He admitted to being a pedophile and committing this crime against someone that should have able to trust him. Getting off on a technicality is NOT by any stretch of the imagination the same as being innocent. He was in a position of trust and abused that position for his own lust using one of our children to do so.

  • Barb

    Mildred Decelles?? Are you kidding me?? How it got this big? Bigger issues than a man in a position of authority taking advantage of a young girl? Not to mention the RAPE VIDEOS found on his computer?? And he was the priest at my children’s school, around kids from pre-k to 12th grade. You and people like you are the reason certain priests got away with what they did all these years! Priests are not infallible! They are people. Some great, some very sick and disturbed. But my dear Mildred, it is a VERY big deal. Take the blinders off.

  • domari nolo

    and when the sheeple flock to the churches in droves awaiting will be the FEMA buses to take them home. The priest the father lmao will say all aboard and his flock will say “AMEN” and so it was done….

  • domari nolo

    boon dock saints …………………. priests one day there won’t be a pope to free you from your sin……one day you will answer for your sins by the AMERICAN PEOPLE…yours truly the guy who knows your all demons in fancy pajamas

  • warlock

    Scary how all the child abusers are getting their charges dismissed or found not guilty. He will just do it again no faith in the system.

  • Garben

    I though their wasn’t no statute of limitations on this type of crime? How did Jerry Sandusky get charged then? Heck his boys all got big money including the gay one who drives the blue mustang around lock haven and jersey shore

    • Belle

      @ Garben: Your comment is sick and disgusting…specifically when you said “…that gay one…” in reference to one of Sandusky’s victims. As if to say that poor soul deserved what happened to him at the hands of Jerry Sandusky because he is gay. You and your intolerant attitude are what is wrong with this world.

      • gafan

        There’s nothing wrong with the term *GAY*.Homosexuals refer to themselves and their projects using the term all the time: Gay rights, gay marriage etc etc etc. It’s a perfectly acceptable term. So what if the guy in the Mustang is gay? Big deal….so what????

  • Tom

    Didn’t the Lackawanna County District Attorney’s office look at the calendar before filing the charges? Can they be that inept? What a fundamental failure on the district attorney’s part.

  • K

    So important that whenever possible not to wait SO long to come forward! That’s how people get away with this stuff!

  • JP

    I like there was no admission of guilt or otherwise. No comment saying, “I didn’t do what they are claiming.” or anything of that nature. Hopefully he is no longer a part of the church, or has any contact with kids.

Comments are closed.