Local Catholic priest is charged with sexual abuse of boys

The Meadville Tribune
May 8, 2018

David L. Poulson, a Catholic priest who served churches in Cambridge Springs and Saegertown, has been charged by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General with sexual abuse of two young boys.

A priest in the Catholic Diocese of Erie has been charged with multiple counts of sexual abuse against two young boys over a period of eight years.

David L. Poulson, 64, of Oil City, has been arraigned on a total of eight counts involving boys who were ages 8 and 15 when the abuse started, according to Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who announced the charges this morning.

Poulson was an active priest in the Erie diocese for four decades until earlier this year, including serving at churches in Cambridge Springs and Saegertown.

The charges were recommended by a statewide investigating grand jury, which found that Poulson sexually assaulted the boys while employed in active ministry as a priest by the Erie diocese, Shapiro said.

Poulson had served as priest at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Cambridge Springs and St. Bernadette Church in Saegertown.

Anne-Marie Welsh, director of communications for the Catholic Diocese of Erie, said a statement would be issued later today.

On Feb. 13, the Catholic Diocese of Erie announced Poulson had resigned as pastor after the diocese said it received what it believed to be credible allegations against Poulson regarding the sexual abuse of children.

“Poulson assaulted one of his victims repeatedly in church rectories,” Shapiro said at a news conference at the Erie County Courthouse where Poulson’s arrest was announced.

“He made that victim go to confession and confess the abuse – to Poulson,” Shapiro said. “This was the ultimate betrayal and manipulation by Poulson. He used the tools of the priesthood to further his abuse.”

According to the grand jury presentment made public today, Poulson sexually assaulted one victim repeatedly in church rectories at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Fryburg and Saint Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Cambridge Springs. The abuse at the rectories usually happened on Sundays – after this victim served as an altar boy at Mass, according to the grand jury. The assaults took place more than 20 times, the grand jury found.

The grand jury found Poulson required this victim to make confession in church and confess to the sexual assaults – to Poulson, who served as the priest receiving the boy’s confession.

The grand jury found Poulson also assaulted this victim and a second victim at a remote hunting cabin that Poulson owned with a friend in Jefferson County.

According to the grand jury, the cabin was off-the-grid and was located 10 minutes off the main road in a rural location. Poulson would take the boys to the cabin, watch horror movies with them on his laptop, and then assault them, the grand jury found.

Shapiro said the Diocese of Erie knew since at least May 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.

The Diocese, which was under the leadership of then Bishop Donald Trautman, even produced a May 24, 2010, secret memorandum, in which diocesan leaders confirmed complaints had been made about Poulson’s inappropriate contact with minors, Shapiro said.

In the memo – hidden in church archives for six years – Poulson admits being “aroused” by a boy, and sharing sexually suggestive texts with numerous other boys, Shapiro said.

Poulson has been arraigned on four counts of indecent assault, two counts of endangering the welfare of children and two counts of corruption of minors.


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