Louisville priest placed on leave amid child porn investigation

By John Paxton
August 15, 2015

Fr. Stephen Pohl (Source: St. Margaret Mary)

[with video]

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The pastor at St. Margaret Mary Parish has been placed on leave after the archdiocese learned he was under investigation for alleged possession of child porn.

The Archdiocese of Louisville issued a release Saturday saying Fr. Stephen A. Pohl was being placed on an administrative leave of absence. Parishioners will be notified at weekend masses.

The release says he is under investigation for allegedly taking and collecting inappropriate photos of children.

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, in a letter to parishioners dated August 14, wrote, "We realize this is a painful situation, and we want to support you during this time of uncertainty."

David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, issued a statement urging church members who may have information to come forward. He also called the timing of today's release disingenuous, and criticized the Catholic church for its past handling of abuse allegations.

"We urge anyone - Catholic or not - to call law enforcement if they have any information that might help prove or disprove these troubling allegations," Clohessy said.

Cecilia Price, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said they learned of the allegations on Wednesday. The cybercrimes unit of the FBI is investigating, she said, but Pohl is not in police custody.

As pastor of the church, Pohl said mass at the St. Margaret Mary grade school and would have had some contact with the children there, Price said, although he did not teach any classes.

Pohl has been with the parish since 2008. He lives in a rectory on the church's property, but is not there at this time, the spokeswoman said in a phone interview. 

The Very Rev. J. Mark Spalding, Vicar General and pastor of Holy Trinity Parish, has been named the temporary administrator of St. Margaret Mary, the archdiocese said. He and Fr. Jeff Shooner, Vicar for Priests, will speak at masses this weekend.

"Please keep Father Steve and all those impacted by this situation in your prayers," Archbishop Kurtz wrote. "You are in my prayers."


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