In legalese, former Crawford County Roman Catholic priest David L. Poulson's recent guilty plea to one count each of corruption of minors sexual in nature and endangering the welfare of children sounds bad but not awful.

Reading what Poulson did to corrupt and endanger two boys — ages 8 and 15 when the abuses started — reveals details that are much worse.

The disgusting things Poulson did to two boys who trusted the priest, a disciple of God, were so explicit. In fact, the information is so graphic we don't want to repeat it in this space.

By pleading guilty to the two charges, each a third-degree felony, Poulson faces up to 14 years in jail and a $30,000 fine and plus registering as a sexual offender for at least 10 years when he is sentenced.

We were disappointed to find out that Poulson could face much less actual jail time because of his lack of a prior criminal record, according to the plea agreement.

Poulson's plea agreement shows his standard sentencing range on the corruption of minors sexual in nature count is probation to nine months in jail while the standard sentencing range for the endangering welfare of children count is three months to one year in jail.

Before Poulson is sentenced by Judge John Foradora, he must be assessed by Pennsylvania's Sexual Offenders Assessment Board.

These acts went on over a period of years, according to Poulson's guilty pleas. Poulson's plea states he "admitted sexual arousal around minors to Bishop Donald Trautman, Bishop of the Diocese of Erie, on or about May 24, 2010 ... but was permitted to continue in ministry until his suspension by Bishop Lawrence Persico in 2018." 

Poulson was the parish priest of St. Anthony of Padua Church in Cambridge Springs until mid-February. On Feb. 13, the diocese announced Poulson resigned as pastor at St. Anthony after the diocese said it received what it believed to be credible allegations against Poulson regarding the sexual abuse of children.

In May, Poulson was charged by the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office with a total of eight counts related to the sexual abuse of two boys between 2002 and 2010 at various locations in Crawford, Jefferson and Clarion counties while he was in active ministry.

That means Poulson served as a priest for nearly eight years after Poulson admitted to the then Erie diocese's leader he was sexually aroused around minors, according to his guilty plea.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro was blunt in his characterization of Poulson following Poulson's guilty plea.

"Today, there can be no doubt David Poulson is a priest who preyed on children for his own sexual gratification," Shapiro said. "Poulson used the tools of his priesthood to abuse children."

This is a high-profile case that's not just being watched regionally but statewide as well. We urge Foradora, who recently announced his bid to run for justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, to give Poulson the maximum sentence.

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