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Pa. priest accused of child sexual abuse due for court hearing

Written by The Associated Press | Oct 17, 2018 5:08 AM
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Survivors weep as Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks during an August 14, 2018, new conference on the release of a grand jury report detailing decades of sexual abuse of children in six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania. (Ty Lohr/York Daily Record)

(Brookville) -- A Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing two boys and having one confess afterward is scheduled to appear in a western Pennsylvania courtroom Wednesday for what is described as a plea hearing.

The case's online court record does not specify the type of plea that involves the Rev. David Lee Poulson, 65, of Oil City, who was arrested in May.

Poulson is one of two priests charged as a result of a statewide grand jury investigationthat concluded about 300 priests had abused at least 1,000 children over seven decades. The report has roiled the Catholic church and prompted calls for Pennsylvania state legislation to allow people to file civil lawsuits over child sexual abuse allegations that would otherwise be too old to pursue.

The other, the Rev. John Thomas Sweeney of the Greensburg Diocese, pleaded guilty to indecent assault this summer and awaits sentencing.

Prosecutors have alleged that Poulson, who was most recently with the Erie Diocese, abused an altar boy in church rectories in Clarion and Crawford counties more than 20 times. He resigned from the diocese earlier this year, after a military chaplain in Texas reported that a 23-year-old had alleged he was abused by Poulson starting at age 8, prosecutors said.

Poulson's lawyer did not return a phone message, and the attorney general's office declined to comment on the hearing.

Poulson is charged with indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children and corruption of minors.

He is alleged to have assaulted the altar boy and another boy at Poulson's secluded, primitive hunting camp in Jefferson County. The abuse of those boys allegedly occurred between 2002 and 2012 when the boys were ages 8 to 18.

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.

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