JEFFERSON COUNTY, Pa. (WJAC) — A former Catholic priest who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing children has learned his fate.
David Poulson, 65, was sentenced by Jefferson County Judge John Foradora to two and a half to 14 years in prison.
Poulson pleaded guilty back in October to corruption of minors and child endangerment.
Poulson's sentencing was followed by a news conference at with Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
At the October hearing, Shapiro said the former priest was facing the maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.
Poulson was charged as a result of a Pennsylvania grand jury presentment.
That report named nearly 300 predator priests accused of abusing more than 1,000 victims.
Officials said Poulson sexually assaulted an altar boy in church rectories more than 20 times and had him confess afterward.
They said he also abused two victims at a remote hunting cabin in Jefferson County.
Authorities said Poulson made them watch horror movies on his laptop, then sexually assaulted them.
Poulson was assigned to various parishes during his tenure as a priest in the Diocese of Erie.
He has since been removed from the priesthood.
Judge Foradora began his sentencing by reading bible versus, saying Poulson used the victim's family and childhood face to commit the actions.
One of victims said in a prepared statement, that Poulson used to be a friend and mentor:
Friend, mentor and trustworthy. These are the word I would have used for someone I thought I knew. I convinced myself that the road trips and gifts were you being my friend. But it was all for an altering motive. You used your position to manipulate young boys. I trusted you, and in return, you tried to take advantage of that trust. I hope this sentence will help to bring some closure to anyone who has been a victim of this man.
The Attorney General's Office said Poulson took something divine and made it diabolical.
Poulson also made a statement in court:
I want to express my gratitude to everyone who has supported me over the past few months. I want to express my gratitude to those who were involved in my legal defense. They’ve been a great support to me throughout this whole experience. I hold no ill will or bad feelings toward the prosecution or the grand jury or my victims. I pray for all of you every day. It’s not so I can get a favorable outcome. I’m praying that you have happy successful lives. I’m sorry for the actions that I’ve committed. They were both criminal and sinful. I’m ashamed of what I did. Listening to the victim impact statements has added to the remorse and regret that I’ve already felt. I know there is nothing I can do that will undo the harm that I caused them. I apologize to them. I am sorry for what I did and I ask they continue to forgive me for what I did. I was the responsible adult. I knew better and should have exercised greater restraint.
Bishop of Erie Rev. Lawrence Persico released the following statement regarding the sentencing of Poulson Friday:
This is a very sad moment for everyone who has been impacted by the crimes committed by Father David Poulson. It’s my hope that the events of this day will bring a measure of healing to victims.As part of his plea, Father Poulson agreed to seek laicization, meaning he will no longer be a member of the clergy. He has made the request, and the diocese has sent the necessary documents to the Vatican. My prayers are with the victims, with the parish communities where David served, and with all those who are experiencing the pain of this situation.