Former priest to stand trial for alleged sexual abuse in Jefferson County

06.01.18 | Bob Price

A former Catholic priest in the Diocese of Erie will stand trial after he waived his preliminary hearing Thursday in Jefferson County.

Father David Poulson, 64, of Oil City, is accused of sexually abusing two young boys over a period of many years.

A grand jury presentment filed earlier this month stated Poulson abused the boys after Sunday service and at a hunting cabin in Jefferson County.

"This was a very secluded cabin here in Jefferson County," said Senior Deputy Attorney General Daniel Dye. "It had no electricity, no running water and was completely of the grid."

A man who testified to the grand jury, James VanSickle, was at the preliminary hearing Thursday. VanSickle said his case is one of nine that can't press charges against Poulson because of the statute of limitations.

VanSickle said he met the former priest in 1979 at Bradford Central Christian when he was 16-years-old. VanSickle said he came forward after hearing about the accusations and was shocked that charges were finally filed.

"I can't say that I didn't think about this for 36 years and waited for it to happen because I actually did," VanSickle said. "I was stunned. I was literally in tears."

VanSickle said the statue of limitations in cases like his should be thrown out. He hopes his decision to speak out will encourage others.

"My goal is to support these young guys that have gone through the same thing I've gone through," VanSickle said. "I know it's hard, it's emotional and it's scary."

Poulson's attorneys said plea negotiations have been discussed.

Dye said additional charges against Poulson are possible.

"We would be very interested to hear from any children who have been inside that cabin with Poulson," Dye said. "We would urge anyone with information about this case to contact the Office of the Attorney General."

Poulson's bail was lowered from $300,000 to $30,000. Online documents show he posted it Thursday.

Dye said a trial is expected to take place this fall.