Priest who abused boys, made 1 con­fess, sen­tenced to prison

Star-Telegram - - News -

A Penn­syl­va­nia Ro­man Catholic priest who pleaded guilty to sex­u­ally abus­ing two boys and mak­ing one of them say con­fes­sion after the as­saults was sen­tenced Fri­day to 2 1⁄2 to 14 years in prison.

David Lee Poul­son was sen­tenced in Jef­fer­son County after plead­ing guilty in Oc­to­ber to cor­rup­tion of mi­nors and child en­dan­ger­ment. He is one of two priests charged as a re­sult of a scathing Penn­syl­va­nia grand jury re­port that named al­most 300 preda­tor priests of abus­ing more than 1,000 vic­tims over seven decades in six of the state’s dio­ce­ses.

The hear­ing Fri­day lasted more than an hour and in­cluded state­ments from two vic­tims read by prose­cu­tors and a brief apol­ogy from Poul­son, who ad­dressed the court be­fore he was sen­tenced.

Poul­son, 65, who served in the Dio­cese of Erie, told the court his ac­tions were “crim­i­nal and sin­ful.”

“I am ashamed of what I did,” he said after hear­ing the vic­tim im­pact state­ments.

Casey White, an at­tor­ney for Poul­son, ar­gued in court that he should re­ceive house ar­rest or pro­ba­tion be­cause he’d also done sig­nif­i­cant good dur­ing his time as a priest. White said the court was sen­tenc­ing the Catholic church as a whole.

Poul­son was im­me­di­ately taken into cus­tody at the sen­tenc­ing.

The al­le­ga­tions against Poul­son in­clude sev­eral years of abuse or attempted abuse against at least two boys. Prose­cu­tors al­leged he abused an al­tar boy in dif­fer­ent church rec­to­ries more than 20 times, of­ten re­quir­ing the boy to then make con­fes­sion and con­fess the abuse to Poul­son.

The com­plaint al­leges Poul­son also took that boy and an­other to a re­mote cabin in the woods where he would watch hor­ror movies with them be­fore at­tempt­ing to abuse them.

The two boys were 8 and 15 when the abuse oc­curred be­tween 2002 and 2010.

“Two of Poul­son’s vic­tims re­ceived jus­tice to­day, and their courage con­tin­ues to in­spire me and ev­ery mem­ber of our pros­e­cu­tion team,” Penn­syl­va­nia At­tor­ney Gen­eral Josh Shapiro said in a state­ment after the sen­tenc­ing. “For more than 7 years, the Dio­cese of Erie al­lowed Poul­son to re­main a priest, even though they knew he was a preda­tor.”

Shapiro called the sen­tence sig­nif­i­cant. The max­i­mum pos­si­ble sen­tence for Poul­son was 14 years. He will have to serve at least 2 1⁄2 years be­fore be­ing el­i­gi­ble for pa­role.

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 that he was abused by Poul­son start­ing at age 8, prose­cu­tors said.

Bishop Lawrence Per­sico, who took over the Erie dio­cese years after the mem­o­ran­dum, is­sued a state­ment late Fri­day af­ter­noon, call­ing it a sad day for ev­ery­one im­pacted by Poul­son’s crimes. He said Poul­son had agreed as part of his plea to be re­moved from the priest­hood and he had sent the nec­es­sary pa­per­work to the Vat­i­can.

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