Persico: Trautman never mentioned Poulson memo when he took over in 2012
ERIE, Pa. - Bishop Lawrence Persico said Bishop Donald Trautman never told him about a memo obtained by a Grand Jury regarding an alleged sexual abuse of minors case involving Fr. David Poulson when Persico took over in 2012.
The announcement came during a news conference Wednesday, Persico's first public comments since Poulson was arrested Tuesday.
The Diocese produced a secret memo May 24, 2010 in which Diocesan leaders confirmed complaints about Poulson's inappropriate contact with minors, Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Tuesday. The memo was reportedly hidden in church archives for six years. In it, he admitted to being "aroused" by a boy and sharing sexually suggestive text with numerous other boys, according to the attorney general's office.
"I want to state unequivocally: I was not aware of any concerns regarding Fr. Poulson until I received those allegations in January of this year," Persico said Wednesday.
Poulson served at a Cambridge Springs and Fryburg, Pa. church. Abuse also occurred in a rural cabin in Jefferson County, Shapiro said.
Persico said he became aware of it when investigators subpoenaed the paperwork in January.
That memo included a paper trail that led from the alleged victim, a church vicar, ultimately to Trautman.
Persico said he had access to those files prior to the subpoena. There are four cabinets in the Diocese office, he said.
"When I came here, I didn't go through every file in the file cabinet," Persico admitted. "That was my hope with the district attorney's office would do for us, so if they see anything, they could flag it and we could look at it."
But when Persico took over in 2012, Trautman updated him only on cases regarding other members of the clergy, who Persico said have since died or left the church.
“It was not until I received and acted upon the allegations earlier this year that I had learned of the memo that had be written in 2010," Persico said.
Poulson, 64, was arrested Tuesday at his mother's home in Venango County. He has been charged with indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children and corruption of minors following a statewide grand jury investigation. Three of the counts are felonies.
He was a priest in the Erie diocese for four decades until his resignation in Feb. 2018.
One of the victims was eight-years-old while the second victim was 15-years-old when the abuse started. It happened while Poulson was employed in active ministry as a priest for the Erie Catholic Diocese, according to investigators.
Trautman issued a statement regarding Poulson late Wednesday afternoon, in which he stated "there was no cover-up of sexual abuse."
"In 2010, I received a fourth-hand allegation about Poulson's contact with a young adult man," said Trautman. "There was no allegation of physical abuse or of contact with a minor. I contracted Diocesan counsel... From the time of the complaint, until I retired, the Diocese received no other complaints about David Poulson."
Trautman noted that he dismissed 22 priests from ministry due to sexual abuse during his tenure. You can read Trautman's full statement here.