Suspended Priest Enters Guilty Plea

By Rebekah Brown
Standard Speaker
February 2, 2014

CRANTON - A suspended priest accused of performing sex acts on a 15-year-old boy pleaded guilty to felony corruption of minors.

The Rev. William Jeffrey Paulish of Blakely, who served at a parish in Hazleton in the 1990s, entered the plea Jan. 22 before Lackawanna County Judge Michael Barrasse.

The priest was arrested in September after police found him and the teen in his car in the parking lot at Penn State Worthington Scranton campus.

The teenager, who wasn't wearing pants when police arrived, later told officials at the Children's Advocacy Center of Northeast Pennsylvania he performed oral sex on the priest.

The felony charge carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison, according to the Rev. Paulish's attorney, Bernard Brown, who said his client is remorseful for his actions.

Brown said the Rev. Paulish decided to plead guilty to "spare the victim" from the legal process and having to testify, and that is client is now focusing on his rehabilitative needs.

The Rev. Paulish was reassigned 15 times during his 25 years as a priest in the Diocese of Scranton. One of those assignments was at Most Precious Blood Church, Hazleton, where he served as assistant pastor from June 1992 to June 1993.

Diocesan spokesman Bill Genello said in a statement Jan. 22 that the Rev. Paulish "has been removed from ministry and his faculties to exercise priestly ministry suspended" since his arrest.

"With the cleric's entering a guilty plea today ... he remains permanently suspended from ministry and the Diocese of Scranton will continue to pursue the canonical resolution of his status. This includes permanent dismissal from the clerical state."



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