Third Alleged Victim Accuses Former Savannah Area Priest of Abuse

By Jan Skutch
Savannah Morning News
August 22, 2012

An Atlanta-area man has told police he was molested as a child by a Catholic priest who was pastor of missions in Pembroke and two others in the Diocese of Savannah, a support group for victims said today.

Leaders of the survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, SNAP, are asking Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory and Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer in Savannah to personally visit each place where the Rev. Bob Poandl worked and reach out to any other victims.

They also want Poandl put in a secure treatment center to protect other possible victims.

"Actually he really needs to be in jail," SNAP official Judy Block Jones said Wednesday. ""We're really concerned there might be some new victims in that area" of the Savannah Diocese.

Jones said the newest alleged victim, the third complaint against Poandl, was 10-year- old and a member and alter boy at St. Francis Assisi Catholic Church in Blairsville when the alleged conduct occurred in the 1980s.

He filed his report with Union County police on July 14, she said.

Poandl served as pastor at Holy Cross Church in Pembroke, St. Christopher Church in Claxton and Our Lady of Guadalupe in Sand Hill near Claxton. He has served off and on in the diocese since 2007.

He left in 2009 after other abuse allegations in West Virginia, but those charges later were dismissed

In February, Poandl, 70, was removed from his duties pending an investigation of alleged sexual abuse from nearly 30 years ago.

He has denied the allegations, but has stepped away from his ministries and returned to the Cincinnati-based Glenmary Home Missioners pending completion of an investigation into the allegations.

The Cincinnati-based order said in February that the Rev. Chet Artysiewicz, president of the Cincinnati-based order, learned of an alleged sexual misconduct against Poandl after the priest became aware of the allegations "through a third party."

Poandl immediately contacted Artysiewicz about the alleged misconduct that "is said to have occurred nearly 30 years ago," the February release said.

Barbara King, spokesperson for the Diocese of Savannah, said Wednesday Poandl was a religious-order priest and overseen by his order, not Hartmayer.

She said the order serves small towns in rural areas.

Poandl was relieved in February of his ministry assignment as pastor to the Glenmary missions in Georgia (Claxton, Pembroke and Sand Hill) and asked to return to the Glenmary residence in Cincinnati."

Civil authorities were notified of the allegation as well as bishops in the diocese involved.

"I am committed to maintaining accountability and transparency as this investigative process unfolds," Artysiewicz said in February in a prepared statement. "Father Poandl and I have both pledged our full cooperation in this investigation, and I will do whatever I can to meet the pastoral needs of all those involved."

A West Virginia judge earlier dismissed charges of sexual abuse against Poandl in 2010 and Poandl's record was subsequently expunged. He returned to active ministry in September 2010 following a dismissal of charges and with the unanimous recommendation of the Glenmary Review Board, the order said.


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