Sex assault charges dismissed against Scranton priest

A Lackawanna County judge on Friday dismissed charges filed against a Diocese of Scranton priest accused of inappropriately touching a teenage girl because the statute of limitations had expired.

Judge Michael Barrasse issued the ruling in the case of the Rev. Philip Altavilla following a hearing Friday, said Paul Walker, Mr. Altavilla's attorney.

Father Altavilla, 48, was charged in April with indecent assault, corruption of a minor and a related offense after a female came forward to allege he indecently touched her in 1998, when she was 13.

Walker sought to dismiss the charges, arguing they fell outside the statute of limitations.

Speaking after the hearing, Walker said at the time the offense allegedly occurred the statute of limitations required the crime be reported within two years after the victim turned 18. In this case, that meant she had to come forward with the allegation by 2005.

Walker said the state legislature has since changed the law to extend the statute of limitations to 12 years after the victim turns 18. The new law did not apply to Father Altavilla, however, because the statute of limitations had already expired in 2005, and the new law is not retroactive, he said

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