GENEVA — Charges against a priest accused of assault and disorderly conduct against have been dropped.
Western County Court Judge David A. Schroeder ruled the charges against Fr. Robert M. Lanterman, pastor of Assumption Church be dismissed on Monday.
Lanterman was charged with one count of misdemeanor assault and one count of misdemeanor disorderly conduct on Sept. 19. The complainant in the case said Lanterman pushed and grabbed her and subjected her to verbal abuse in church after mass that day.
At a pretrial hearing on Dec. 10, the city of Geneva moved to dismiss the case. City Solicitor Lauren Gardner stated on the record that the city could not prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt, and therefore moved the court for dismissal.
The court allowed Valerie Ferrante, identified as the victim of the alleged assault, to address the court. She referred to the incident, stating she was “physically aggressed” by Lanterman, who she said was also verbally hostile toward her.
During her statement she also recited several sections of the rules of the Youngstown Diocese pertaining to child protection and standings of ministerial behavior. Lanterman’s attorney, William Bobulksy, objected and the court sustained the objection on the basis that church rules were irrelevant to this criminal proceeding.
Ferrante, citing privacy through counsel, declined to respond in open court whether she had sought medical care as a result of the incident.
In response to Ferrante’s statement, Gardner said she reviewed all prosecution and defense witness statements and made the determination that she could not prove the charges. She said the credibility of the witnesses and the victim were an issue in the case.
After reviewing the record, including Ferrante’s statement, Judge David Schroeder concluded the city of Geneva could file a written dismissal without prejudice to refiling, should circumstances warrant.
Gardner and Lanterman’s attorney, William Bobulsky, were not available for comment at this time.