Priest to Face More Molestation Accusations at Trial
By Amber Hunt
September 13, 2013
Federal prosecutors plan to allege that a longtime Catholic priest had a history of molesting children before he was accused of taking a Cincinnati boy to West Virginia and assaulting him in 1991, according to a motion filed Friday in U.S. District Court.
In the motion, prosecutors allege that the Rev. Robert F. Poandl molested two young boys over a three-year period beginning in May 1981. Both boys were about 10 years old at the time, according to the filing, and the priest had met the childrens’ parents through Worldwide Marriage Encounters, a program affiliated with the Catholic Church designed to bring husbands and wives closer together.
Jury selection is set to begin Monday in Poandl’s trial, in which he’s accused of transporting another then-10-year-old boy from Cincinnati to Spencer, West Virginia, on Aug. 3, 1991, and assaulting the boy.
The alleged victim is identified only as “D.H.” in the indictment. It’s the policy of The Enquirer not to identify alleged victims of sexual assaults. Poandl couldn’t be reached for comment Friday. He was released on an electronic monitor in November pending trial. He belongs to a Fairfield-based Catholic religious order called the Glenmary Home Missioners and is not associated with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
Jean Bach, Glenmary’s communications director, said Poandl denies the allegations. He was relieved of ministerial duties in February 2012.
According to the federal court filings, Poandl took the boy, with his mother’s permission, on an overnight trip to a rectory in West Virginia, where he awakened the boy in the middle of the night by having anal sex with him. The victim told authorities that after the act, Poandl said they had just sinned and needed to pray to God for forgiveness.
The alleged victim didn’t tell anyone about the assault for 18 years, according to the filings, until a girlfriend said it was her dream to get married in a Catholic church. Soon after, he told her and his parents that the priest had assaulted him nearly two decades earlier.
Judy Jones, the Midwest associate director for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Friday that Poandl’s employment history has “big red flags” because he had been transferred about 30 times in 44 years, working at churches in eight states, including Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Texas and Georgia.
Bach said that isn’t true. “We don’t even have 30 mission sites,” she said.
This is the second trial Poandl has faced in the alleged 1991 assault. The same incident was to be the focus of a state trial in West Virginia in 2010, but the charges were dismissed. The case was able to be resurrected in federal court because Poandl is accused of taking the boy across state lines, resulting in a charge of transporting a minor for illicit purposes. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Poandl tried to get the federal case dismissed last month based on the statute of limitations, but Judge Michael Barrett denied the request.
David Clohessy, the director of the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests, said police and prosecutors are “becoming more savvy and aggressive about pursuing older child-sex cases.”
“That’s a trend that we certainly applaud,” Clohessy said. “It’s easy to dodge responsibility and say, ‘Shucks, it happened a long time ago, so this might be a tough case to put together.’ We’re grateful to the prosecutors for pursuing this.”
Testimony in the trial is expected to begin Tuesday.