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Search Warrant: Priest Has Strangulation & Chloroform Fetishes

Scranton police have seized the computer and phone of a Diocese of Scranton priest who was arrested earlier this month on child sex charges.
New details are emerging into the investigation of a priest in the Diocese of Scranton.

Less than two weeks ago, Father Philip Altavilla was arrested for allegedly inappropriately touching a 13-year-old girl back in 1998.

Scranton police say Father Altavilla inappropriately touched the girl after giving her alcohol after midnight mass on Christmas in 1998.

A search warrant filed in connection with the case by Scranton police indicates investigators have seized the computer and phone of Father Altavilla.

The sign outside Saint Peter's Cathedral has been changed within the last two weeks.

With Father Philip Altavilla suspended from his position in the Diocese of Scranton, his name has been removed from the board that once indicated he was Cathedral Priest.

Already accused of corruption of minors and indecent assault, prosecutors say their investigation is still very much ongoing.

"When we get a disclosure, through arrest, through the court proceedings, the investigation keeps going," Deputy District Attorney Jennifer McCambridge said. "The investigators keep looking at information, trying to get people that have information and we follow it wherever it leads."

Eyewitness News has obtained a search warrant application made by Scranton police who were looking to seize the computer and the phone belonging to the long-time priest from his room in the rectory building, which is right next to Saint Peter's Cathedral.

During an interview with detectives, the search warrant says, "the defendant admitted that he struggled with a pantyhose, feet, strangulation and chlorofoam fetish."

The paperwork continues, "Altavilla also admitted that he uses the internet to research videos and images depicting women being strangulated, given chloroform and then sexually assaulted."

According to the court paperwork, Father Altavilla admitted he took pictures of the 13-year-old girl's feet who he is already accused of abusing. In addition to those pictures, Altavilla admitted taking pictures of other teenage girl's feet and he kept them in a bag at his residence.

When investigators seized Father Altavilla's phone, detectives also say a message appeared on the screen.

"The message was from a **(person)** and it indicated that the author has been haunted for years. I still remember waking up with you."

Prosecutors say all of the information raises red flags but so far no additional charges are planned.

"There's no other charges pending," McCambridge said. "I don't anticipate filing any in the near future but like I said, we will continue to follow all the leads and if anyone has information they should contact the Scranton police immediately."

Parishoners in the Diocese of Scranton are shocked at the latest on this investigation.

"I don't know what to think because the man was so kind," William Nolan of Scranton said.

William Nolan often served with Father Altavilla as an alter server.

"The man was so pleasant. He was so polite. I'm absolutely shocked, without a doubt," Nolan said.

The allegations that Father Altavilla had festishes of strangulation and chloroform were the most shocking to many people.

"I don't know what to say. I mean, I really don't know what to say about it," Butch Map of Scranton said. "For a priest to do something like that, yeah, a little bit shocked, wouldn't you think?"

Father Altavilla remains free on $75,000 unsecured bail.

His preliminary hearing is currently scheduled for April 30th.
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