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The Mississippi Court of Appeals has upheld the 2020 conviction of a former pastor on statutory rape and sexual battery involving two 14-year-old girls.

The Rev. Troy Anthony Piccaluga, 52, was convicted March 5, 2020, on the charges and sentenced by Circuit Judge Toni Walker Terrett to 50 years in prison.

Piccaluga appealed the verdict, claiming the trial judge erred by denying his motion to suppress a portion of his recorded interview with law enforcement, by allowing “repeated instances of improper prosecutorial comment,” by allowing the use of a transcript of a recorded telephone call and by permitting a lay witness to give improper opinion testimony.

The judges, in a ruling dated Tuesday, found no reversible error and affirmed the verdict, The Vicksburg Post reported.

“We appreciate the ruling of the court,” District Attorney Ricky Smith said. “We had two young victims who were victimized by Piccaluga and had to wait until today to make sure that the case was finally concluded. They can rest easy now that the case has been affirmed by the court.”

Piccaluga is serving his sentence at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility in Meridian. His scheduled release date is in September 2069.

Piccaluga, then 48 and former pastor of the Eagle Lake and Redwood United Methodist churches, was arrested March 30, 2018, at his home by Warren County sheriff’s deputies after an investigation into a complaint about a girl between the ages of 14 and 16 having a sexual relationship with an older man. The second victim was discovered during the initial investigation and he was charged with two counts of statutory rape and one count of sexual battery.

At the trial, the jury was unable to reach a verdict on one of the rape counts.

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