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Lackawanna County Priest Sentenced on Sex Crimes Charges

A Lackawanna County priest, who was arrested for having sexual contact with a 15-year-old boy, apologized for his actions Tuesday.
A Lackawanna County priest, who was arrested for having sexual contact with a 15-year-old boy, apologized for his actions Tuesday.

Father William Jeffrey Paulish was caught by police with a pants-less boy in a car last year.

In court Tuesday, Paulish said he should have known better.

Paulish pleaded guilty to one felony count of corruption of minors and could have spent up to seven years behind bars. The judge didn't sentence him to the maximum penalty but determined a prison term was justified in the case.

William Jeffrey Paulish walked into court on his own Tuesday but for the next eight to 23 months, he will be locked-up for having sexual contact with the teenage boy.

"He should have known better and he should have done better for himself, for the community and specifically for the victim in this case," Deputy District Attorney Jennifer McCambridge said.

Last year, Dunmore police say they caught the priest with the boy in a car on the campus of Penn State Worthington/Scranton.

Paulish admits he met the boy after placing an ad for companionship on Craigslist.com.

In court, Paulish apologized to his victim, his family and friends and the Diocese of Scranton.

"It was something that he wanted to make clear to everyone that he was very sorry. This has been a long process, a long road for him," defense attorney Bernie Brown said.

In handing down his sentence, the judge wanted to make it clear Paulish didn't use his position as a priest to lure his victim.

Paulish's attorney says substance abuse issues may have contributed to what happened.

"He did a stint in rehab for alcohol and he had gotten out recently and sometimes when you put down the substance, you see it in their behavior and I think that's something that results in poor choices," Brown said.

At the time of his arrest, Paulish worked as an assistant pastor at Prince of Peach Parish in Old Forge.

He is not the only priest recently arrested for sex crimes.

"It makes it difficult for parents, for families to tell their kids who to trust, who to turn to," McCambridge said. "All these people who are defendants now are ones that we used to tell kids they can trust, they can go to for help."

Besides prison time, Paulish will also have to serve two years probation when he's released and perform 100 hours of community service.

After the sentencing, the Diocese of Scranton released the following statement:

"Today’s sentencing in Lackawanna County Court of Rev. Jeffrey Paulish, who pled guilty to felony corruption of minors following his arrest in September 2013, resolves the criminal proceedings against him. The Diocese will continue to assess its obligations as established by The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People regarding the cleric’s status, including permanent dismissal from the clerical state. In response to today’s sentencing, the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L, Bishop of Scranton, asked the faithful of the Diocese to join him in praying for the victim and his family, and all those impacted by child sexual abuse."

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