William Jeffery Paulish's lawyer asks public to wait to hear clergyman's defense
"And I'm going to ask the jury, if we get to that point, to extend to Father Paulish
the presumption of innocence."
Ordained in 1988, Paulish
has served at more than a dozen Northeastern Pennsylvania parishes, including assignments in Exeter, Hazleton, Wilkes-Barre and Bear Creek, according to diocesan records.
Security officers at Penn State Worthington Scranton said they discovered Paulish
parked in a red Toyota on Thursday night with a 15-year-old boy who wasn't wearing any pants, according to an affidavit.
allegedly told police under questioning at the Dunmore police station that he
arranged the meeting via the online site Craigslist.
also allegedly told police he
asked the teen three times whether he
was 18 before their conversation turned sexual.
detectives charged Paulish
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.
Paulish, who was serving as an assistant pastor at Prince of Peace Parish in Old Forge, was removed from that assignment and his ability to act as a priest was suspended by the Diocese of Scranton when officials were notified of the charges against him.
In a letter read to parishioners in Paulish
's former parishes on Sunday, Diocese of Scranton
Bishop Joseph C. Bambera urged "anyone who may have been involved in or may be aware of any abusive situation involving Father Paulish to immediately contact the Lackawanna County
District Attorney's Office."
Diocesan officials also have declined to speak further on the allegations against Paulish
, to explain why Paulish
may have moved around so frequently and what prompted three leaves of absence - two citing only medical reasons, and one for which no reason was listed.
As such, in the case of Father W. Jeffrey Paulish, in addition to issuing a statement about the matter, the diocese also shared the cleric's assignment history and affirmed its commitment to cooperate fully with law enforcement's criminal investigation into this very serious and disturbing matter," diocesan spokesman Bill Genello said Tuesday in an email to The Times Leader.