PA Priest Jailed After Being Caught with Pantsless Boy
A Catholic priest whose ministry included counseling troubled youths is facing charges in northeastern Pennsylvania after police say he admitted to sex acts with a 15-year-old boy.
According to an AP article, Rev. William Paulish was in Lackawanna County prison, unable to post $50,000 bail Friday. The charges include corruption of a minor, indecent exposure, unlawful contact with a minor, indecent assault and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a person under 16. Court records did not list a lawyer for Paulish.
Paulish and the boy were caught by Dunmore police after Penn State Worthington Scranton security guards reported the priest’s car as suspicious when they saw it on the evening of Sept. 19 parked near the tennis courts.
The boy did not have pants on when police arrived and both later admitted to performing sex acts, police said. Paulish told investigators that he arranged the meeting through an ad he posted on Craigslist, police said.
The priest told police he asked the teen three times if he was 18 years old. When looking at male pornography, he said he prefers men between 18 and 35 years old, but also admitted he has viewed "twink" pornography.
The teenager was interviewed at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Northeast Pennsylvania and said he performed oral sex on the Rev. Paulish.
Lackawanna County detectives Chris Kolcharno and Justin Leri served three search warrants Friday. One was served on the priest’s Dell computer and Droid Motorola Razr cellphone. Another was served to retrieve bodily fluids from the Toyota, police said. Another was served to collect DNA from the Rev. Paulish.
The Rev. Paulish is charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a person under 16, indecent assault of a person under 16, indecent exposure, corruption of minors and unlawful contact. He was sent to Lackawanna County Prison in lieu of $50,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
Scranton Bishop Joseph C. Bambera requested the faithful join him in prayer for the victim and those impacted by sexual abuse.
"I wish to acknowledge how unsettling this is to me personally and to countless others, that yet again a priest has been involved in such inappropriate, immoral and illegal behavior," Bishop Bambera said in a statement.
The Times-Tribune of Scranton reported that Paulish, 56, has been reassigned 15 times by the Diocese of Scranton after being ordained in 1988 and has had three separate leaves of absence.
The diocese did not respond to an emailed request to explain why the Rev. Paulish was moved so frequently, and the reason for the unexplained leave. Efforts to reach diocesan community affairs manager Daniel Gallagher by telephone were unsuccessful.
In a news release, Mr. Gallagher said the Rev. Paulish was removed from his assignment as assistant pastor at Prince of Peace Parish in Old Forge, and he can no longer serve as a priest. He pledged the diocese’s assistance to police investigating the Rev. Paulish.
"Upon being notified of this incident, the cleric was immediately removed from his assignment and his faculties to exercise priestly ministry were suspended," Mr. Gallagher wrote.
The diocese did not respond to the newspaper’s requests to explain the reassignments and absences. In a press release, the diocese said it removed Paulish from his assignment as assistant pastor at Prince of Peace Parish in Old Forge and suspended his ability to work as a priest.
Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.