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Priest accused of child sexual abuse in grand jury report pleads guilty to felony charges

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One of the priests accused in a Pennsylvania grand jury report of sexually abusing children pleaded guilty Wednesday to two felonies, the state attorney general’s office said.

David Poulson, who was a priest in Pennsylvania’s Diocese of Erie for four decades until this year, pleaded guilty in a court in Brookville to corruption of minors and endangering the welfare of children, both third-degree felonies, Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office said.

Poulson assaulted one boy multiple times and attempted to sexually assault another boy, Shapiro said in the release. The boys were eight and 15 at the time.

“A number of years ago David Poulson acted inappropriately,” his attorneys, Casey D. White and Christopher E. Mohney, said in a statement. “By his plea of guilty today to two charges, he has accepted responsibility for those earlier transgressions.”

Details about when Poulson would be sentenced weren’t immediately available. The defense attorneys said they plan to submit to the court as much material as possible to present Poulson’s “total being.”

“Only then can Judge (John) Foradora fashion a fair and just sentence,” they said.

The priest initially faced eight charges, but pleaded guilty to two. The remaining charges were withdrawn.

Poulson was one of more than 300 priests from six Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses that a grand jury said in an August report were credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 child victims since 1947.

Poulson was arrested and charged in May on the grand jury’s recommendation, three months before the larger report was released.

But he was one of only two priests named in the August report to be charged with crimes. The grand jurors said that the rest of the cases were too old to be prosecuted, because of statutes of limitations.

READ THE GRAND JURY REPORT

Authorities alleged Poulson sexually assaulted a boy repeatedly in church rectories at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Fryburg and St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Cambridge Springs. They also alleged Poulson tied to assault a second boy at a remote hunting cabin that he owned with a friend in Jefferson County.

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