Erie Catholic Diocese releases list of alleged sexual offenders once within their ranks

Local News

A list released by the Diocese of Erie shocks the area.  On it are the names of priests and laypersons credibly accused of sexual abuse.  

On the list are 51 names, all religious leaders within the Diocese of Erie, credibly accused of sexual abuse, both alive and deceased.

Bishop Lawrence Persico calling attention to the wrongs committed spanning over several decades. “Abuse is traumatic enough, but it’s earth-shattering when it’s perpetrated by someone who is in a position of trust.”

Persico is releasing the names of 34 priests and 17 laypersons within the Diocese of Erie credibly accused of sexual abuse.  On the list is former Bishop of Erie, Alfred Watson, for failing to act when abuse was reported to him. 

Former President of Mercyhurst University, Dr. William Garvey, and three men currently under investigation, including 64-year-old Father David Poulson formerly of St. Anthony’s in Cambridge Springs, and 27-year-old Father Sean Kerins of Hermitage.

Persico says, “they have tarnished the people of God and the priesthood, so I find that very upsetting”.

But leaders within the Diocese say apologies are not enough, and that’s why they’re announcing major policy revisions to keep these tragedies from occurring.

Marie Welsh, Director of Communications, says, “We carry the burden of responsibilty for the victims who were abused by the very people who were supposed to serve and inspire them.” 

Monsignor Edward Lohse is overseeing the revised policy for the protection of children and youth.  Changes include the Diocese relying on outside investigators and lawyers to uncover the truth behind each allegation in addition to requiring clearances, not only from the Commonwealth, but also from the Diocese.

Lohse says, “We believed that the policy now is at this point in its development where we can say it’s very proactive to prevent abuse from ever happening.” 

The bishop tells us the list is likely to grow when the Diocese gets the results back from a grand jury investigation.

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