Former PA Catholic Priest Pleads Guilty In Connection With Repeated Sexual Assaults

BROOKVILLE (Pa.) – A former Catholic priest for four decades in the Diocese of Erie, David Poulson, pleaded guilty today to felony crimes in connection with repeated sexual assaults against one boy and the attempted assault of another boy, according to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

David Poulson, Former Catholic Priest.
Image by PA Attorney General’s Office.

Poulson pleaded guilty to corruption of minors and endangering the welfare of children — third-degree felonies — in a hearing in Jefferson County Common Pleas Court, according to the report. Poulson was arrested and charged in May by Shapiro’s office.
The victims were eight and 15-years-old at the time of the acts committed against them, according to Shapiro.
“Poulson assaulted one of his victims in church rectories,” said Shapiro, in a news conference following Poulson’s plea at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Brookville. “He made that victim go to confession and confess the abuse – to Poulson. He used the tools of the priesthood to further his abuse. Today, Poulson is being held accountable and facing justice for his crimes.”
Poulson was charged earlier this year by a Statewide Investigating Grand Jury probing widespread sexual abuse by clergy against children in six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania, including the Diocese of Erie.
According to the grand jury’s presentment:
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 the victim served as an altar boy at Mass. These assaults took place more than 20 times.
Poulson required this victim to make confession to the sexual assaults – to Poulson, who heard the boy’s confession.
According to Shapiro, Poulson also assaulted this victim and attempted to assault a second victim at a remote hunting cabin that he owned with a friend in Jefferson County. In an effort to assault them, Poulson would bring the youths to the cabin and watch horror movies with them on his laptop.
Since at least May 2010, the Diocese of Erie knew 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, according to the AG. In a May 24, 2010 secret memorandum – hidden in church archives for six years – Poulson admitted to being “aroused” by a boy and sharing suggestive texts with numerous other boys.
Poulson was assigned to various parishes during his tenure as a priest in the Diocese of Erie. His assignments included serving as Pastor of St. Agnes in Morrisdale, St. Michael’s in Fryburg, St. Anthony of Padua in Cambridge Springs, and St. Bernadette in Cambridge Springs.
“Two of Poulson’s victims received justice today, but because of outdated statute of limitations laws in Pennsylvania, other victims may never have their day in court,” Attorney General Shapiro said.