Ex-nun Refuses to Hand over Journal

By David Hedges
The Times Record
April 22, 2010

A former nun ordered to turn over her personal journal to lawyers defending a priest charged with child sex abuse is refusing to do so.

Robert Poandl, 68, of Cincinnati is charged with sexually abusing a 10-year-old boy when he filled in for a priest at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Spencer in August 1991.

The boy, also from Cincinnati, allegedly accompanied Poandl on his one-day trip to Spencer more than 18 years ago.

The church secretary was Sister Karen Karper, a Catholic nun at the time.

She is no longer a nun and is married to a former priest, Paul Fredette, who was pastor at Holy Redeemer at the time of the alleged abuse. The couple now lives as hermits in the mountains of North Carolina.

The Fredettes were questioned by authorities after the alleged victim, now 28 years old, reported the abuse last year.

Poandl was indicted by a Roane grand jury in January and is free on bond while awaiting trial.

He was serving as a parish priest in Georgia at the time of his indictment, but officials with the Glenmary Home Missioners in Cincinnati said he was removed from that assignment and returned to the headquarters in Cincinnati while the charges are pending.

Attorneys for both sides in the case debated pretrial motions before Roane Circuit Judge David Nibert Monday afternoon.

Defense attorney Anita Ashley continued to press for a copy of Karen Fredette’s journal for a two-year period, including a year on each side of the date of the alleged incident – Aug. 4, 1991.

She said the brief portion of the diary shared with investigators mention’s Ponadl’s visit to Spencer, but says nothing of a child accompanying him.

“It says Father Bob was here that day, but it makes no mention of a child,” Ashley said.

She said the alleged victim is not certain of the date the incident supposedly occurred. She said there were several visiting priests who filed in around that time, while the regular priest was away due to illness and death in his family.

“There may have been another priest who brought a child,” Ashley said. “I think there’s enough doubt we need to see it.”

Prosecutor Josh Downey said he had sent Karen Fredette a letter and provided a copy of the court’s order that she turn over two years of her journal.

“Her response was that she didn’t see the relevance of any of that,” Downey said.

Fredette also said the request was an invasion of her privacy.

He said Fredette had obtained a lawyer to represent her regarding the journal.

Downey suggested the court order be modified, possibly to request only one year of the journal instead of two.

Nibert said the order would stand.

“If we don’t have it, how do we know it’s relevant?” the judge said. “That’s for the court to decide.”

Downey said he plans to call the ex-nun as a witness, but the defense has argued that if the journal is not turned over, Fredette not be allowed to testify at the trial.

The defense is also asking for all of the alleged victim’s medical records, including any psychiatric records, since 1991.

“If the crime occurred as alleged, I would think some pediatrician would have picked up on it,” Ashley told the court.

The defense also wants all of the alleged victim’s employments records, including anything from the Ohio Board of Pharmacy such as suspensions or actions regarding his license. The alleged victim is apparently a pharmacist.

Downey said some of the records may be difficult to obtain, and others involve confidential matters.

The defense is also requesting a copy of a questionnaire presented to Holy Redeemer church members in 1991, as well as all the responses received from members of the church. The request does not describe the questionnaire, except to say it was mentioned in the investigator’s report.

The defense also wants to restrict cameras or recording devices inside and even outside the courtroom, and have be informed of any media request to take photos during the trial.

Nibert said he plans to consider some of the requests before the next pretrial hearing.

Nibert said there might be more problems than normal impaneling a jury for the trial. Circuit Clerk Beverly Greathouse said she usually sends out 400 summonses to get a pool of 80 potential jurors. Nibert said the clerk’s office might have to send out 600 summonses to get a pool of 120 from which to select.

The trial is set to get underway July 17, after another pretrial hearing set for June 7.


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