ERIE, Pa. — A Roman Catholic diocese in Pennsylvania has agreed to pay $2 million to a man who was sexually abused as a child by a priest who made him say confession after the assaults. The settlement with the Diocese of Erie was announced Tuesday by the victim’s attorney, Mitchell Garabedian.
The defrocked priest, David Poulson, was sentenced this year to 2 1/2 to 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to the sexual assault of one boy and attempted sexual assault of another.
“This settlement is significant because it shows that the Diocese of Erie is responsible for the wholesale sexual abuse of children post, after 2002,” when the church put revised policies for handling abuse into effect, Garabedian said.
During a news conference Tuesday, Garabedian alleged that the diocese was aware of allegations of abuse against Poulson earlier than the 2018 report by a military chaplain that his client had disclosed significant abuse.
“The $2 million represents validation to my client that the abuse was not his fault and that he did nothing wrong,” he said.
The Erie diocese turned over a “confidential memorandum” dated in 2010 that contained an admission by Poulson that he had been “aroused” by a boy, prosecutors said. Poulson started at the diocese in 1979 and resigned in 2018.
Poulson is one of a handful of priests criminally charged as a result of a Pennsylvania grand jury investigation that detailed decades of abuse by 300 priests.
According to nationally recognized sex abuse attorney Jeff Herman, “The depth of the cover-ups of these crimes against children is devastating. These predator priests and their enablers must be exposed.”
In November 2011, Jeff Herman won a landmark $100 million verdict on behalf of a client who was sexually abused by Father Neil Doherty, a Roman Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Miami. For more than 25 years, Jeff has enjoyed a reputation for aggressive and tireless advocacy on behalf of his clients. He understands the unique issues involved in the representation of survivors of sexual abuse and believes that empowering them is the most important part of representing them.