HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro has announced that a former Catholic priest in the Diocese of Erie was held for trial after he waived his preliminary hearing on charges that he sexually abused two young boys over a period of many years.
The waiver by a defendant of his right to a preliminary hearing means that the prosecution can move forward and prepare its case for trial. David Poulson, 64, of Oil City waived his right to such a hearing Thursday, and all charges against him were held for court. Bail was set at $300,000 cash, or 10 percent.
Poulson, a Catholic priest in the Erie diocese for four decades until earlier this year, was charged this month with indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children and corruption of minors. Three of those counts are felonies.
The charges 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,” 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.”
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Daniel J. Dye. Attorney General Shapiro asked 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.
“The time of protecting powerful institutions over vulnerable children is over, and anyone who abuses kids will have to answer to my office,” Shapiro said. “We want to hear from you if you were abused by any priest or clergy member.”