(Photo: Screen Grab via CNN)
A longtime Catholic priest who has worked at more than a dozen different parishes in Pennsylvania has been suspended from his job at Old Forge after he was allegedly caught having sex with a 15-year-old boy in his car on the campus of Penn State University.
According to an affidavit cited by the Times Leader, security officers at Penn State Worthington Scranton said they discovered the Rev. William Jeffrey Paulish, 56, with the pantless teen in his red Toyota last Thursday.
When asked what was going on, the affidavit said Paulish told police that he was working on his homily when he happened upon the boy and learned that he was in emotional distress so he decided to counsel him.
He later allegedly admitted that what he was doing with the teen was a far cry from counselling.
He told investigators that he had met the teen through Craigslist where he had placed an ad in the "casual encounters" section. Paulish said he then received an email from an unknown male and agreed to meet on the university campus.
"Paulish stated he asked the male approximately three times if he was 18 years old," police wrote in the affidavit, which doesn't indicate a response from the boy.
The report noted that the conversation between the boy and the priest turned sexual after they got into the priest's car and they took off their pants. The teen told police he performed a sex act on the priest.
Paulish was charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a person under 16, indecent assault of a person under 16, unlawful contact with a minor (sexual offenses), corruption of minors and indecent exposure. He was arraigned on Friday before District Judge James A. Gibbons and committed to the Lackawanna County Prison in lieu of $50,000 bail. A preliminary hearing of his case is set for Wednesday.
In a statement from the Diocese of Scranton on Friday, officials said they acted swiftly on hearing of the priest's behavior.
"On September 20, 2013, the Diocese of Scranton was notified of an incident involving Father W. Jeffrey Paulish, a priest of the Diocese of Scranton, who according to law enforcement officials was discovered in an inappropriate sexual act with a minor. Upon being notified of this incident, the cleric was immediately removed from his assignment and his faculties to exercise priestly ministry were suspended," noted the statement.
"The Diocese has pledged its cooperation to law enforcement and asks that anyone who may have been sexually abused by Father Paulish or any member of the clergy notify the Lackawanna County District Attorney's Office at 570-963-6717 or local law enforcement," it continued.
The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, also extended apologies to the teenager and his family while expressing concern for the Prince of Peace parish community, where Father Paulish most recently served.
"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," he said.