Erie priest waives hearing on sex abuse charges

By Debra Erdley
Trib Live
May 31, 2018

A former Catholic priest from the Erie Diocese is headed to trial on charges that he sexually abused two boys over a period of years.

The Rev. David Poulson, 64, of Oil City, is one of two priests-- one each from the Greensburg and Erie dioceses-- facing charges stemming from a statewide grand jury probe of allegations of sexual abuse in six Catholic dioceses across the state.

A spokesman for the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office said Poulson, formerly a priest in the Erie Diocese, waived his right to a preliminary hearing in Brookville on Thursday on charges that he repeatedly sexually abused two boys in a remote Jefferson County cabin.

Bail remained at 10 percent of $300,000 for the former priest who has been held in the Jefferson County Jail since his arrest last month.

Poulson was a Catholic priest in the Erie diocese for four decades until earlier this year. He was charged with indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children and corruption of minors. Three of those counts are felonies. The charges were recommended by a statewide investigating grand jury.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, whose office convened the grand jury and is prosecuting the case 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.

A second priest, the Rev. John Thomas Sweeney, 75, formerly of the Greensburg Diocese, was arrested last year and is awaiting trial in Westmoreland County on allegations that he sexually assaulted a fourth-grade boy in the early 1990s at the St. Margaret Mary parochial school in Lower Burrell.

The statewide grand jury that investigated charges against the two men, also investigated allegations of sexual abuse in dioceses in Pittsburgh, Scranton, Allentown and Harrisburg. The panel completed its work at the end of April.

Copies of the 884-page grand jury report were given to attorneys for the dioceses late last month. Shapiro commended church officials for supporting the release of the report and said he expects to make its findings public late this month.



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