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Police: Pennsylvania priest caught with pantless 15-year-old on college campus

From Kevin Conlon, CNN
updated 10:57 PM EDT, Fri September 20, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Rev. W. Jeffrey Paulish, 56, was arrested Thursday
  • Authorities say they found Paulish with partially dressed teen
  • Paulish has been charged with two felony counts and three misdemeanors
  • The Diocese of Scranton has suspended Paulish

(CNN) -- A Catholic priest in Pennsylvania has been charged with molesting a teenage boy after police said he was found in a car on a college campus with a 15-year-old who was wearing no pants, according to a police criminal complaint filed Friday in Lackawanna County.

The Rev. W. Jeffrey Paulish was charged with one felony count of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and one felony count of unlawful contact with a minor after Dunmore police say they found him and the boy on Thursday in a car on the Worthington Scranton campus of Penn State University, according to the complaint.

Paulish, 56, of Scranton, was also charged with three misdemeanor counts -- indecent contact with a person under 16, indecent exposure and corruption of a minor. He is being held at the Lackawanna County jail on $50,000 bail.

Dunmore police officers say they discovered Paulish and the boy after responding to a call of a suspicious vehicle, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed with the court.

Allegedly Paulish told police he was at the campus working on his homily when he met the teen, who he said was in emotional distress, and began counseling him.

According to the affidavit, he later admitted to police that he had arranged the meeting with the teen through the "casual encounters" section of Craigslist. Paulish told investigators that he had asked the boy three times if he was over the age of 18, the affidavit said.

A telephone message left by CNN for Paulish's attorney, Bernard J. Brown, was not immediately returned Friday.

Paulish has been removed from his post at the Prince of Peace parish and has been suspended from acting in the capacity of a priest, according to a statement released by the Diocese of Scranton.

The diocese pledged its cooperation with the investigation, and it called on anyone who "may have been sexually abused by Father Paulish or any member of the clergy" to notify the district attorney's office.

"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," the Bishop of Scranton, the Rev. Joseph Bambera, said in the statement.

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