Former East Texas Priest Sentenced in Sex Abuse Case
By Lexie Cook
February 13, 2014
A former East Texas priest is set to spend the next seven and a half years in prison for sexually assaulting a 10-year-old boy.
Father Robert Poandl, also known as "Father Bob", worked for the Catholic Diocese in Tyler during the 1990s.
The Diocese says Poandl mainly worked as a parish priest in Pittsburg, TX, south of Mount Pleasant.
Poandl is charged with taking a boy on a trip from Ohio to West Virginia, where he sexually assaulted him. He is not facing any charges related to his time here in East Texas.
Still, the Diocese of Tyler says they are reaching out to any possible victims.
"To the best of my knowledge, we had no one come forward, there was never any kind of allegation of any kind that I was aware of when he was actually working with us," says Most Reverend Joseph Strickland, the Bishop of the Diocese of Tyler.
Strickland says he is both sad and surprised a priest he worked with is convicted of sexually assaulting a young boy.
"I would never have expected that kind of accusation against Father Poandl, the man that I knew," Strickland says.
Poandl's victim is now 32-years-old and says father Poandl abused him in 1991 while Poandl was serving as a priest in Fairfield, Ohio.
"I am a survivor of Robert Poandl. I successfully fought to bring him to justice," says David Harper, Poandl's victim.
In 2009, Harper reported the abuse to authorities. The Diocese of Tyler says they immediately reacted to the news.
"I remember being involved in making sure we got the appropriate notices out to anyone who Father Poandl might have ministered to," Strickland says.
Strickland says no one came forward here in East Texas, but as the case continued protestors from all over the U.S. stood up for anyone who remains silent.
"I wear a picture of myself around the time that I was abused as a child to remind myself and others that I am a 46-year-old guy talking today but I am speaking on behalf of kids everywhere," says one member of S.N.A.P. or Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
"I'm sure with these kind of sad circumstances, you know that sometimes people are hesitant to come forward," Strickland says.
The Diocese of Tyler says any cover up or lack of transparency in cases like this hurts everyone.
"The truth will set you free and the truth is sometimes difficult," Strickland adds.
Poandl continues to deny the allegations against him. His attorney says Poandl is dying of kidney cancer.
Bishop Strickland says there are several ways you can report abuse within the Catholic Church.
Click here for more information on how to get help for abuse within the Diocese of Tyler.