Priest accused of sexually abusing two boys at Jefferson County hunting cabin

By Matthew Stevens
May 8, 2018

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro on Tuesday charged a priest who was with the Catholic Diocese of Erie for nearly 40 years with sexually abusing two boys.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro on Tuesday charged a priest who was with the Catholic Diocese of Erie for nearly 40 years with sexually abusing two boys.

Father David Poulson, 64, was charged with indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children and corruption of minors. The charges come after a state grand jury investigation.

According to the grand jury presentment, Poulson first started to abuse two boys, when they were ages 8 and 15, over many years.

According to the presentment, Poulson assaulted one of the victims at rectories in St. Michael's Catholic Church in Frysburg and St. Anthony Padua Catholic Church in Cambridge Springs, where the boy served as an altar boy.

Shapiro said the abuse would happen after Sunday service and took place more than 20 times.

Shapiro said Poulson would then make the victim go to confession and confess to the sexual assaults as Poulson was the priest sitting in the confessional.

“This was the ultimate betrayal and manipulation by Poulson – he used the tools of the priesthood to further his abuse,” Shapiro said.

According to the presentment, the first victim and a second victim were also abused at a remote hunting cabin in Jefferson County where Poulson would bring them to watch horror movies on his laptop then sexually assault them.

“The victims we speak for today were abused by a man who was supposed to protect them,” Shapiro said.

“They were abused in sacred places where their families thought they were safe."

Shaprio said Tuesday the Diocese of Erie knew of Poulson's sexual predator tendencies since May 2010, but didn't report him to the authorities until September 2016.

In a memo between diocesan leaders that was hidden in church archives for six years, Poulson admits being “aroused” by a boy, and sharing sexually suggestive texts with numerous other boys, according to Shapiro.

Shapiro said the grand jury learned of the first victim's sexual abuse earlier this year after a military chaplain in Fort Hood called the diocese and said the victim, now 23, revealed the abuse of Poulson.

Shapiro said officials then interviewed Poulson, who admitted to owning a hunting cabin and making 20 trips there, half of which with young boys, and also admitted to being attracted to young men.

"In this case, our investigators uncovered evidence of other sexual assaults – but the statute of limitations prohibited us from filing those charges. This victim – all victims – are entitled to justice," said Shapiro.

Poulson was assigned to 11 locations in the Diocese of Erie before leaving the diocese earlier this year. He served at St. Francis of Assisi in Clearfield in 1997 then starting serving as Pastor at St. Agnes Church in Morrisdale.

Last month, the diocese released names of dozens of church members who have been accused of found to have abused victims.

Shapiro said anyone who was sexually abused by Poulson or any other priest can contact the Office of Attorney General's Clergy Abuse Hotline at 1-888-538-8541.


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