After Damning Grand Jury Report, Priest Pleads Guilty

Rev. David Lee Poulson pleads guilty to corruption of minors, child endangerment
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 17, 2018 4:23 PM CDT
After Damning Grand Jury Report, Priest Pleads Guilty
In this May 31, 2018, photo, the Rev. David Lee Poulson is led into his preliminary hearing in the courtroom of District Judge Gregory Bazylak in Brookville, Pa.   (Madeleine O'Neill/Erie Times-News via AP)

One of two Roman Catholic priests charged as a result of the damning Pennsylvania grand jury investigation admitted he sexually abused children, pleading guilty Wednesday to corruption of minors and child endangerment, the AP reports. The Rev. David Lee Poulson, 65, of Oil City, was arrested earlier this year during a grand jury probe that concluded hundreds of clergy in the state had sexually abused at least 1,000 children over seven decades. Prosecutors say Poulson abused an altar boy in church rectories and had him confess afterward. They say he also abused the boy and attempted to assault another boy at a hunting camp. "Today's guilty plea by a predator priest in Jefferson County is a clear statement that no matter who abuses a child, no one is above the law," said state Attorney General Josh Shapiro at a news conference after the hearing in the Brookville courthouse.

Poulson took the victims to his primitive, secluded hunting camp in Jefferson County about a decade ago, where they watched horror movies on a laptop and he abused them, prosecutors said. The victims were 8 and 15 at the time the crimes occurred, according to authorities. Shapiro said he expected Poulson to have to register as a sex offender for at least a decade. Sentencing has not been scheduled. The Erie diocese turned over a "confidential memorandum" dated in 2010 that contained an admission by Poulson that he had been "aroused" by a boy, prosecutors said. Poulson resigned from the Erie diocese earlier this year, after a military chaplain in Texas reported a 23-year-old had alleged he was abused by Poulson starting at age 8, prosecutors said. The other priest charged in the investigation, the Rev. John Thomas Sweeney of the Greensburg diocese, pleaded guilty to indecent assault this summer and is awaiting his sentencing. (Many of the abuses detailed in the report are shocking.)

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