Former Fryburg Priest Accused of Sexually Abusing Young Boys to Face Jury Trial
Court documents indicate that jury selection in the case of David Poulson, 65, of Oil City, is scheduled for February 11, 2019, at 9 a.m., followed by a jury trial.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro filed the following charges against Poulson on May 7:
- Indecent Assault Person Less than 13 Years of Age, Felony 3
- Indecent Assault Person Less than 13 Years of Age, Misdemeanor 1
- Indecent Assault Person Less than 16 Years of Age, Misdemeanor 2
- Endangering Welfare Of Children, Felony 3
- Corruption Of Minors – Defendant, Felony 3
- Indecent Assault-W/O Consent Of Other, Misdemeanor 2
- Endangering Welfare Of Children, Misdemeanor 1
- Corruption Of Minors, Misdemeanor 1
The charges against Poulson, a Catholic priest in the Erie diocese for four decades until earlier this year, 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.
“Poulson assaulted one of his victims repeatedly in church rectories and in a secluded cabin off the grid in Jefferson County,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “He made that victim go to confession and confess the abuse – to Poulson. This was the ultimate betrayal and manipulation by Poulson. Now, thanks to the work of the grand jury and our prosecutors and agents, we’re holding Poulson accountable for his crimes.”
According to the grand jury presentation:
- 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. These assaults took place more than 20 times.
- 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.
- Poulson also allegedly assaulted this victim and a second victim at a remote hunting cabin that he owned with a friend in Jefferson County. The cabin was off-the-grid, located 10 minutes off the main road in a rural location. It lacked electricity, heat or running water. Poulson would bring the youths to the cabin, watch horror movies with them on his laptop, and then assault them.
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 even produced a May 24, 2010, secret memorandum, in which diocesan leaders confirmed complaints had been made about Poulson’s inappropriate contact with minors. 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.
Poulson, a native of the Oil City area, served as a priest at St. Michael’s Church in Fryburg, Clarion County, for several years between the late 1990s and 2013.
He was released from the Jefferson County Jail in May after posting 10 percent of $300,000.00 cash bail.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Daniel J. Dye.
Attorney General Shapiro asks 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.
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