Troy Anthony Piccaluga’s conviction remains intact after the verdict finding him guilty of statutory rape and sexual battery was upheld by the Mississippi Court of Appeals.
A jury found Piccaluga, a 50-year-old Methodist pastor, guilty of one count of statutory rape and one count of sexual battery on March 6, 2020, after a four-day trial. Originally accused of two counts of statutory rape, the jury was unable to come to a unanimous decision on one charge.
As the verdicts were being read, Piccaluga took a handful of pills in an unsuccessful suicide attempt. Warren County Sheriff’s deputies escorted him from the courtroom to the hospital where he was treated and released.
The charges stem from accusations made by two of Piccaluga’s young parishioners. At the time of his arrest in March 2018, Piccaluga was Pastor of Eagle Lake United Methodist Church and Redwood United Methodist Church in Warren County. The two female victims in the case were between the ages of 14 and 16, and the incidents took place from January to March of 2018. An initial report filed by one victim’s parents led to the second victim.
Judge Terrett imposed the maximum sentences for the charges against him: 30 years for statutory rape and 25 years for sexual battery, the sentences to run consecutively. She suspended five years on the battery charge, meaning Piccaluga will be 100 years old before he would leave prison.
Piccaluga appealed the verdict and claimed the judge incorrectly denied his motion to suppress part of his videotaped interrogation interview. Court documents state, “He argues that after he told officers he wanted to “talk to someone else,” they should have ended the interview, and because they did not do so, all of the interview that follows should have been suppressed.”
The appeals court found “The trial judge did not err by denying Piccaluga’s motion to suppress because Piccaluga did not invoke his right to counsel or to remain silent under Miranda. There was no “prosecutorial misconduct” during the trial. Finally, the trial judge did not abuse her discretion by allowing the jurors to use a transcript while the recorded phone call was played or by overruling Piccaluga’s objection during the redirection examination of Investigator Dikes. ”
The verdict was upheld because Piccaluga failed to identify any reversible error.