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Pa. priest who abused boys, made one confess, due to be sentenced

Written by The Associated Press | Jan 11, 2019 9:36 AM
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Survivors of child sexual abuse hug in the Pennsylvania Capitol while awaiting legislation to respond to a landmark state grand jury report on child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018 in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Marc Levy)

(Brookville) -- A Roman Catholic priest who pleaded guilty Pennsylvania to sexually abusing two boys and making one of them say confession after the assaults is set to be sentenced in court.

David Lee Poulson of Oil City is one of two priests charged as a result of a damning grand jury report that named almost 300 predator priests accused of abusing more than 1,000 victims in six of the state's dioceses.

Prosecutors said he 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. The victims were 8 and 15 at the time the crimes occurred, according to authorities.

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.

Court records show 65-year-old Poulson is scheduled to be sentenced at 1:00 p.m. today after pleading guilty in October to corruption of minors and child endangerment.

Prosecutors say Poulson abused an altar boy in church rectories more than 20 times and had him confess afterward.

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.

The grand jury's report, made public in August, 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. Talks on such legislation in the General Assembly have so far failed to reach a deal, and state lawmakers' two-year session is nearing its end.

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