Priest Found Guilty of Taking Boy for Illicit Purposes
By Amber Hunt
September 20, 2013
A longtime Catholic priest who prosecutors say had a history of molesting children was found guilty Friday of taking a Cincinnati boy to West Virginia and assaulting him in 1991.
The Rev. Robert F. Poandl sat quietly after the verdict was read, nodding silently to his lawyer. The victim fell into his mother’s arms and his family members stifled cheers of celebration in the U.S. District courtroom.
Poandl, who belongs to a Fairfield-based Catholic religious order called the Glenmary Home Missioners and is not associated with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, faces up to 10 years in prison for the conviction. He was relieved of ministerial duties in February 2012 and will remain at a Glenmary retirement-type home until he’s sentenced, a date for which wasn’t set Friday.
Judge Michael Barrett ordered that the priest be monitored by GPS tether and only allowed to leave for doctor appointments and meetings with his lawyer.
According to testimony that began Monday in Cincinnati, Poandl took the boy, with his mother’s permission, on an overnight trip to a rectory in West Virginia. Once there, Poandl awakened the boy in the middle of the night by having 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 victim, who now is in his 30s and testified at the trial, didn’t tell anyone about the assault for 18 years.
Asst. U.S. Attorney Kenneth Parker, chief of criminal division, said the jury saw past the defense’s efforts to undermine the victim’s credibility by bringing up his past abuses of prescription drugs and a 2009 citation for marijuana possession.
“He’s a human. He’s going to go through the trials and tribulations of a human, same as anyone. He has his demons but he obviously was a very credible witness in the end,” Parker said.
When the verdict was read, the victim’s brother fist-pumped the air as the priest’s supporters began to cry. Afterward, the victim’s mother told reporters that it’s time for her family to move forward.
“We have a wedding to plan,” she said, explaining that the victim is engaged. “It’s been a long four-and-a-half years, and it’s time to live life again.”
The woman declined to give her name to protect the identity of her son. The Enquirer typically doesn’t name victims of sexual assaults.
Parker acknowledged that the case was made more difficult by the 22-year time gap between the crime and the trial.
“This case for us represents that a victim should feel comfortable coming forward to bring forward allegations even if a significant amount of time has passed,” Parker said.
Judy Jones, the Midwest associate director for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said that Poandl’s employment history had “big red flags” because he had been transferred about 30 times in 44 years. She sat with the family as the verdict was read and hugged his parents afterward.
This was 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 was accused of taking the boy across state lines, resulting in a charge of transporting a minor for illicit purposes.