Plea Deal Possible in Priest Sex Assault Case?
The Pa Homepage
October 30, 2013
A Catholic priest from Lackawanna County who is accused of having sexual contact with a teenage boy was in court Wednesday morning.
Both prosecutors and an attorney for Father W. Jeffrey Paulish confirm a plea deal is in the works.
When he was arrested last month, Father Paulish was charged with a number of crimes including indecent assault, indecent exposure and unlawful contact with a minor.
A plea deal could spare the 15-year-old boy from ever having to testify in a courtroom.
With the possible plea deal in the works, Father Paulish gave up his right to a preliminary hearing to challenge the evidence against him.
"There is a plea offer on the table," Deputy District Attorney Jennifer McCambridge said. "I don't really want to get into the terms of that at this point. I don't want to mess up anyone's rights at this point but like I said, I think there is a resolution that could be reached."
On September 19th, police say they found Father Paulish in a car with a pants-less 15-year-old boy on the Penn State Worthington/Scranton campus in Dunmore.
Father Paulish initially told investigators he was walking around working on a homily and met the boy by chance but later admitted placing an advertisement on the website Craigslist and the two agreed to meet.
Paulish's attorney says given the nature of the case and the evidence, a plea may be the best way to resolve this matter.
"When you look at plea negotiations and waivers, you look to limit the exposure to jail and supervision and after evaluating the case we felt that's the best avenue to take," defense attorney Bernie Brown said.
At the time of his arrest, Father Paulish was working at Prince of Peace Parish in Old Forge. Since he was ordained in 1988, he had worked in roughly a dozen different churches.
At this point, prosecutors say no other victims have come forward.
"At this point there's no other charges forthcoming," McCambridge said. "The investigation will remain open and as always if anyone has more information or things that they think we need to know, we'd ask them to come forward."