Convicted rapist Pastor Othonier Altruz says his sentence is unjust and based on lies by the thirteen-year-old victim. The appeals courts rejected Altruz’s appeal.
Pennsylvania pastor convicted of raping a teenage parishioner when she skipped school will stay in prison after an appeals court rejected his claim that his punishment is “harsh and excessive.”
Othonier Altruz’s argument that his 7 3/4 – to 16-yeat jail term is unjust is based on nothing more than “bald allegations,” Judge John L. Musmanno found in the Superior Court panel’s opinion.
Investigators said the 56-year-old Altruz encountered the 13-year-old Delaware County girl when she walked by his car after deciding to cut class. She recognized Altruz as her pastor and accepted his offer of a ride. She later told police that Altruz took her to a motel, ripped off her clothes, pushed her onto a bed and raped her.
The girl provided several versions of how she was assaulted. Musmanno cited a filing by County Judge Gregory M. Mallon, noted the girl initially said nothing to her parents about being raped. The girl later claimed she was abducted by a stranger, then said Altruz raped her in his car, and finally told investigators the attack occurred at a motel, Mallon wrote.
Police said Altruz agreed to come with officers to their station for questioning when they arrived at his home, but then he fled out the back door. An employee testified that she saw about Altruz leave the motel with a young woman on the day of the rape, investigators said.
Musmanno also rejected Altruz’s contention that Mannon should have declared a mistrial when the girl testified she had tried to commit suicide by cutting her wrists with scissors right before Altruz’s trial.
The prosecution told Altruz’s lawyer about the incident immediately. Musmanno agreed with Mannon’s opinion that the information about the suicide attempt didn’t alter the outcome of Altruz’s trial.
In 2016, Alex Rose, a writer for the Delaware County Daily Times reported:
A 54-year-old Chester pastor was convicted Friday on rape and related charges for the sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl in an Essington hotel room last summer.
The jury deliberated for about four hours before finding Othonier Altruz guilty of rape, statutory sexual assault, sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, indecent exposure, simple assault, corruption of minors and unlawful contact with a minor.
Altruz, a pastor at a church on the 600 block of East Sixth Street, was arrested June 6 after the victim, now 14, gave police three different versions of events regarding the assault.
The girl first told her parents she skipped school June 1 and was abducted at the SEPTA bus terminal in Chester by an unknown assailant who raped her in a car.
The girl later told Chester Police Officer Robert Jones that she got into a car with Altruz, her pastor of two years, after her mother dropped her off at Chester Community Charter School. That story ended with Altruz driving to the church parking lot and raping the girl in his car.
Jones said he went to speak with Altruz at his home on the 300 block of East 20th Street June 5, but the defendant fled and was not taken into custody until the following day in Media.
The victim told Jones the third and final version of her story after Altruz was arrested, claiming he raped her at a hotel about 10 minutes from her school. Jones said he retrieved credit card receipts from staff at the Red Roof Inn on Route 291 in Essington that same day showing Altruz had rented a room there from June 1 to June 2.
A woman working the front desk at the hotel June 1 testified that she remembered checking Altruz in, but said he was not with anyone. The clerk said she saw him leaving the hotel sometime in the afternoon accompanied by a short young woman with dark hair, but said she did not see the woman’s face.
Dr. June Elcock-Messam, of Media Pediatrics, also testified that she performed a rape kit on the victim June 3, but the girl’s genitals were so swollen and sore that she was unable to perform an interior vaginal swab. There was no significant DNA evidence collected in the investigation, according to a stipulation read to the jury Thursday, but Elcock-Messam said the swelling was consistent with a recent genital trauma.
Defense attorney Kevin Wray pointed to inconsistencies in the victim’s testimony and a lack of DNA evidence in the case during closing arguments, while Assistant District Attorney Christopher Boggs focused on the genital trauma, credit card receipts and Altruz fleeing police.
Boggs added that the girl likely did not want to relive the experience and concocted the two false stories so that she would not have to discuss the assault in detail.
Judge Gregory Mallon revoked bail and set sentencing for April 15 pending a presentence investigation, psychosexual evaluation and state Sexual Offenders Assessment Board evaluation to determine whether Altruz meets the criteria for a sexually violent predator.
Wray indicated he would be filing a motion seeking a mistrial due to the victim’s testimony that she attempted suicide after the rape. He said he would also seek acquittal on four charges based on the age difference between Altruz and the victim, which Wray asserted Boggs failed to properly establish in the course of the trial.