Man Who Claims Father David Poulson Abused Him Speaks about Testimony to Grand Jury

Erie News Now
May 8, 2018

Man who testified at PA grand jury on priest sexual abuse, claims that Father David Poulson abused him. He says it happened from 1979 to 1983, when the priests was his English teacher and chess coach at Bradford Central Christian High School.

In announcing sexual abuse charges against retired Diocese of Erie priest, David Poulson, 64, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said the grand jury heard from nine other men who had contact with father Poulson when they were minors.

Erie News Now talked with one of those nine, James VanSickle, 54, of Pittsburgh who voluntarily came forward to testify before a state grand jury in March. “And when I heard the new accusation, I was in a little bit of turmoil deciding what to do, but I didn’t want this kid to be the only voice,” VanSickle said.

He told the grand jury that Father Paulson groomed him, then abused him beginning in 1979 when the priest was his English teacher and chess team coach at Bradford Central Christian High School.

VanSickle said chess team dinners, progressed to private dinners where alcohol was introduced, and that led to wrestling in the rectory, and in a hotel room on a trip. “He changed into his pajamas and wanted to wrestle…obviously became aroused, which I was very aware of, he began to wrestle, and obviously it was a task to get him off of me, so it did end in a physical confrontation,” VanSickle said.

Attorney General Shapiro said, “We believe evidence of a sexual assault existed, but it was barred on statute of limitations grounds.”

VanSickle who took years to come forward thinks that statue should be abolished. “I feel that voices need to come forward and come together to make this stop and I know that there's fear and shame and fear of exposure that keeps people silent...especially males.”

Van Sickle is no longer a Catholic, but does call himself a born-again Christian. He said he does not blame the church, but flawed people and in his view that includes leaders who may have covered up abuses and allowed perpetrators to act again.

“I think father Paulson was completely covered up by both (Bishop) Trautman and Bishop Persico, do I know that they did this, I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure that there’s going to be enough evidence to prove that they were aware.”








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