Philip A. Altavilla
Diocese: Diocese of Scranton
From Report I of the 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:
On April 3, 2014, the Diocese of Scranton was notified by law enforcement that Father Philip A. Altavilla had been arrested for indecent assault, criminal attempt – indecent assault and corruption of minors in connection with a sexual assault on a female that occurred on December 15, 1998 when she was 13-years-old.
The victim reported that on that occasion she had been an altar server assisting Altavilla with midnight mass. Afterwards, Altavilla provided alcohol to her and gave her a ride home. During the ride to her house, Altavilla pulled into a parking lot and parked the vehicle. He then swung her legs across his lap, touched her feet and worked his hands up her thigh towards her vagina. The victim told him to stop and he did.
During the course of the investigation, Altavilla admitted to having fetishes with feet, legs, pantyhose, strangulation and chloroform.
On April 4, 2014, Father Thomas Muldowney removed Altavilla from his assignment as pastor and revoked his faculties to exercise priestly ministry.
On April 27, 2014, Altavilla submitted his resignation letter to Bishop Joseph C. Bambera advising that his resignation was effective April 3, 2014 “the day of my being arrested and charged.”
In a letter from the Diocese dated June 3, 2015, it was noted that Altavilla “had admitted to the alleged victim in a consensual phone intercept that he had touched her inappropriately.”
Prior to trial it was determined the statute of limitations had expired for the charges that were filed against Altavilla in connection with the assault on the victim. The case was dismissed but as observed in the June 3, 2015 letter, “not for lack of merit.”
A civil lawsuit against Altavilla and the Diocese was settled in 2014.
The Diocese placed a notice in the bulletins distributed within of all the churches to which Altavilla was assigned, inquiring as to whether any minor in those congregations had been sexually abused by a priest, deacon, religious or lay employee of the Diocese. The victims were encouraged to immediately report such abuse to law enforcement.
Additional information regarding the widespread sexual abuse of children within the Catholic Dioceses of Pennsylvania and the systemic cover up by senior church officials is compiled in the Pennsylvania Diocese Victim’s Report published by the Pennsylvania Attorney General following a two-year grand jury investigation. A complete copy of the Report is available on the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s website.