Roman Catholic priests from parishes in Cambridge Springs and West Middlesex have been removed from any public ministry as well as from any contacts with children by the Diocese of Erie.

Father David Poulson, 64, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Cambridge Springs, and Father Sean Kerins, 27, chaplain at Kennedy Catholic High School, Hermitage, also assigned to Church of the Good Shepherd Parish, West Middlesex, have been removed.

A statement from the Diocese said the two removal actions are unrelated to each other but come in the wake of investigations by the Diocese.

The diocese received what it believes to be credible allegations against Poulson regarding the sexual abuse of minors. A preliminary independent investigation is still ongoing, and the matter has been turned over to law enforcement, the Diocese said in a statement.

With Kerins, the Catholic Schools Office of the Diocese of Erie was informed in late January by Kennedy Catholic High School of a possible inappropriate communication from Kerins, a faculty member, to a student at Kennedy.

The Diocese had a preliminary independent investigation conducted which found a series of text messages in question were inappropriate according to diocesan and school standards, and in violation of diocesan policy, the Diocese said.

Law enforcement now is conducting its own investigation, according to the Diocese.

Bishop Lawrence T. Persico of the Erie Diocese said he was shocked and disappointed in both cases.

"My heart aches for the victims and their families," he said in a statement. "Priests are rightly held to a high standard, so it was especially devastating for me to learn of both situations. I know all Catholics, including our priests, are deeply wounded by this behavior."

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