Former police chaplain charged in sex abuse Minister accused of incidents in 1992

April 12, 1996|By Kris Antonelli and Robert A. Erlandson | Kris Antonelli and Robert A. Erlandson,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Joe Nawrozki contributed to this article.

A former Baltimore County police and fire department chaplain turned himself in to detectives yesterday on charges that he twice sexually abused a teen-age boy in his Catonsville home four years ago.

The Rev. Salvatore Anthony Battaglia, 65, now of Port Orange, Fla., surrendered after he learned police had obtained a warrant for his arrest. He was charged with one count of child abuse and one count of perverted sexual practice, according to District Court records.

According to charging documents, the accuser was 13 in summer 1992 and was staying with his grandparents in the 1200 block of Black Friars Road -- a few doors from Mr. Battaglia's home.

Mr. Battaglia befriended the boy, taking him on police calls and buying him scanners and radios, detectives said. And on two occasions in the basement of the chaplain's home, the charging documents allege, the youth was sexually assaulted.

The youth -- now 16 and living in Kissimmee, Fla. -- kept the alleged incidents secret until recently, revealing them to his parents when they were arguing about his attitude, the charging documents said.

After being booked on the charges, Mr. Battaglia was released on $100,000 bail. He could not be reached for comment. According to his wife, he was staying with friends in Randallstown.

Mr. Battaglia's attorney, Richard M. Karceski, would not com- ment on the charges.

The Rev. Maynard Lauterbach, coordinating chaplain for the Baltimore County police and fire departments, said Mr. Battaglia was a chaplain for eight years with duties that included %o comforting the families of police officers or firefighters killed in the line of duty.

"I believe in Tony 100 percent," Mr. Lauterbach said. "He's the kind of fellow who would do anything to help people."

Mr. Battaglia was a member of the Catonsville Baptist Church on Frederick Road for several years, according to its pastor, the Rev. Robert A. Lilly. He said Mr. Battaglia attended services, but he was not involved in church activities.

"It's one of those things; you think you know people," Mr. Lilly said. "And then when you hear something like this, it blows you away. I never would have thought it."

Mr. Battaglia had been a barber, learning the trade in his father's Baltimore and Catonsville shops. He continued to work part time cutting hair while he was a chaplain and has been a barber in Florida since moving to Port Orange in 1993, Mr. Lauterbach said.

He said that Mr. Battaglia was raised a Roman Catholic and went to a seminary in the Midwest to study for the ministry. He became an interdenominational minister and was subsequently ordained a Baptist minister, Mr. Lauterbach said.

He said that Mr. Battaglia preferred to be called "chaplain" rather than "reverend."

Pub Date: 4/12/96

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