Pa. Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting boys

By Chelsea Simeon
May 8, 2018

A Catholic priest in the Diocese of Erie is facing criminal charges for what prosecutors say was the sexual abuse of two young boys. 

Father David Poulson, 64, of Oil City, is charged with indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children and corruption of minors.

He was indicted by a grand jury and was arrested Tuesday morning. 

Attorney General Josh Shapiro said one of the victims was 8 years old when the priest began abusing him, while the second boy was 15 when the abuse started.

The assaults took place more than 20 times, including at the rectory where one of the victims served as an altar boy, according to investigators. 

Investigators said Poulson required the victim to make a confession to the sexual assaults in which he served as the priest receiving the confession. 

"This was the ultimate betrayal and manipulation by Poulson. He used the tools of the priesthood to further his abuse," Shapiro said. 

Investigators said Poulson assaulted the other boy at a remote hunting cabin that he owned in Jefferson County. 

Shapiro said Poulson was a Catholic priest in the Erie diocese for four decades until earlier this year. 

According to a press release from Shapiro's Office, the Diocese of Erie knew since at least May of 2010 of Poulson’s sexual predator tendencies but did nothing to report him to authorities until September 2016, in response to a subpoena from the grand jury.

Shapiro said a memo from 2010 was found in which diocesan leaders confirmed complaints had been made about "Poulson’s inappropriate contact with minors." According to that memo, Poulson admitted to being "aroused" by a boy, Shapiro said. 

The Diocese posted a statement to its website in response to the charges, saying they are all "heartsick" by the news. 

"Regarding this situation, we have no details, but we simply are praying and fasting that the Spirit of God's truth prevails in this matter," read the statement. 

Poulson was assigned to various parishes during his tenure as a priest in the Diocese of Erie, including serving as pastor of four St. Agnes in Morrisdale, St. Michael’s in Fryburg and St. Anthony of Padua and St. Bernadette in Cambridge Springs.

 Shapiro asked anyone with information about sexual abuse by Poulson or any priest to contact the Office of Attorney General’s Clergy Abuse Hotline at 1-888-538-8541. The office’s investigation into sexual abuse by priests and other clergy is ongoing.



Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.