Priest Accused of Molesting Girl, 13, After Midnight Christmas Mass

A northeastern Pennsylvania priest has been ordered to stand trial on charges that he plied a 13-year-old girl with alcohol and touched her inappropriately after a midnight Christmas Mass in 1998.

The Rev. Philip Altavilla, former pastor of St. Patrick's Parish, is charged with indecent assault and corruption of minors. The 48-year-old defendant has been suspended by the diocese as pastor of the Cathedral Church of St. Peter, Scranton's main church.

The now-29-year-old woman testified Tuesday in Lackawanna County that Altavilla rubbed her feet and thigh. A detective testified that he acknowledged in a recorded phone call that he had a fetish for feet and pantyhose.

Defense attorney Paul Walker questioned whether touching feet or legs constituted indecent contact and also argued that the statute of limitations had expired.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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