Third Person Accuses Former Priest of Abuse
By Jan Skutch
Savannah Morning News
August 30, 2012
A Catholic priest who once served as pastor at Holy Cross Church in Pembroke was accused of sexual misconduct last week for the third time.
An Atlanta-area man told police he was molested as a child by the Rev. Bob Poandl, who in addition to pastoring in Pembroke served served in two other churches in the Diocese of Savannah, a support group for victims said Aug. 22.
Leaders of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, SNAP, want Poandl put in a secure treatment center to protect possible victims and are asking Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory and Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer in Savannah to visit each place where the Rev. Bob Poandl worked and reach out to potential 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.
According to Jones the latest alleged victim, and the third to file a complaint against Poandl, was 10 years old and a member and altar boy at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Blairsville when the alleged conduct occurred in the 1980s.
He filed his report with Union County authorities on July 14, she said.
Poandl served as pastor at 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 but left in 2009 when other abuse allegations surfaced in West Virginia. Those charges were later dismissed.
In February of this year, Poandl, 70, was removed from his duties pending an investigation of alleged sexual abuse from nearly 30 years ago.
Even though he has denied the allegations Poandl stepped away from his ministries and returned to the Cincinnati-based Glenmary Home Missionaries order pending completion of an investigation.
Officials with the Cincinnati-based order said it learned “through a third party” in February of an alleged sexual misconduct complaint against Poandl after the priest.
Poandl immediately contacted Artysiewicz about the alleged misconduct that “is said to have occurred nearly 30 years ago,” the February release said.
The Rev. Chet Artysiewicz, president of the Home Missionaries order, said he had no knowledge of the new allegations and had requested a copy of the police report.
“We have also been in contact with the district attorney in Blairsville, who was also not aware of the police report. Once I receive the report, Glenmary will begin a preliminary investigation.
“We don’t know anything about the accuser at this time, but it’s my hope that I can find a way to reach out to this person as soon as possible.”
In addition, Artysiewicz has notified church authorities in the archdioceses of Cincinnati and Atlanta as well as the Diocese of Savannah, the order said.
Hartmayer said the Diocese of Savannah will cooperate with the Glenmary order and the authorities in the investigation of the allegations and urged anyone who has been the victim of sexual abuse by a cleric, lay employee or volunteer to come forward.
The diocese investigates all such allegations and in the event they involve a member of a religious order, notifies the order so it can investigate and take the proper action.
Barbara King, spokeswoman for the Diocese of Savannah, said Poandl was a religious-order priest and was overseen by his order, not Hartmayer.
She said the order serves small towns in rural areas.