Jury Begins Deliberations in Trial of Ohio Priest
By Lisa Cornwell
September 19, 2013
CINCINNATI (AP) — An Ohio priest took a 10-year-old boy to West Virginia and raped him more than two decades ago, a federal prosecutor told jurors Thursday, while the defendant's attorney denied the alleged victim even made the trip.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Oakley and the attorney for Robert Poandl offered their closing arguments before jurors began deliberating in the trial of Poandl, from the suburban Cincinnati-based Glenmary Home Missioners.
The Roman Catholic priest has pleaded not guilty to a charge of transporting a minor in interstate commerce with the intent of engaging him in sex.
Defense attorney Stephen Wenke told jurors that the allegations are false and that the priest did not take the boy on that trip to Spencer, W. Va., in August 1991.
Prosecutors say the priest told the boy's parents he needed someone to ride with him to keep him awake and navigate, and then raped the boy after the two arrived at the West Virginia church.
Oakley told jurors that the accuser was a happy, easygoing boy until Poandl turned him into someone who had nightmares, used drugs and even contemplated suicide.
"He was raped and told he had sinned in the eyes of God," by Poandl, Oakley said.
The accuser did not report the alleged abuse until he told West Virginia authorities in 2009. Poandl was indicted there on charges accusing him of sexually abusing the boy, but a judge dismissed those charges in 2010.
Wenke said the accuser's story changed through the years and was full of inconsistencies. He said he would not speculate on why the accuser, who is now 32 years old, would have made up the story.
"But it's not true," Wenke said. "That's the bottom line."
The accuser had no reason to come forward and put his entire history before the public except to try to help other children, Oakley said. The Associated Press does not generally identify alleged victims of sexual abuse.
Jurors deliberated about two hours Thursday afternoon and were to resume Friday morning.