Archdiocese to release details on St. Margaret Mary priest under investigation for child porn

August 21, 2015

[with video]

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Louisville Archdiocese has released new information about a priest who is being investigated for child pornography allegations.

In a press conference Friday afternoon, church leaders told reporters that Father Stephen Pohl, pastor of St. Margaret Mary parish, submitted his resignation yesterday afternoon.

Church leaders said they first learned of the FBI Cyber Crimes Unit investigation of Father Pohl on Aug. 12. The Archdiocese told reporters that the investigation began after a child told their parents about a picture that was taken. The parents obtained a copy of the picture, reviewed it, and immediately contacted authorities.

A search warrant was executed last Wednesday.

"Pastorally, I'm feeling the grief that I can only imagine parents are feeling," Rev. Joseph Kurtz, the Archbishop of Louisville said.

Anger, hurt and fear. That's how parents felt after the Archdiocese of Louisville met with parents at St. Margaret Mary Thursday night.

"Father Pohl had numerous, up to 200 they reported photos of St. Margaret Mary children on his computer, cell phone or other places. These pictures were apparently taken on parish grounds," Brian Reynolds, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Louisville said.

Officials say the boys and girls were fully clothed in the photos, but authorities described some of the pictures as inappropriate.
The Archdiocese has not seen them, but says there's no evidence so far that he shared them.

"They did report that usually in circumstance like this, after they have a collection of pictures they bring them to the authorities of a school and ask to confirm are they the students and then they would share them with the parents," Reynolds said.

Church officials say they're trying to be transparent.

"They did learn that Father Pohl had downloaded child pornography on some of his personal computer equipment and other technology," Reynolds said.

Pohl was living in a rectory on the same grounds as the St. Margaret Mary campus on Shelbyville Road - but no longer.  More than 700 children attend the school.  Pohl has not been arrested or charged.

"The steps that he has taken now is that he's no longer the pastor and he is not able to present himself as a priest in pastoral care or in the public in that way," Kurtz said.

The Archbishop said he was personally deeply grieved about the FBI investigation currently looking into Father Pohl’s conduct. He added that the investigation is ongoing, and invited prayers in support of the investigation.

Church leaders emphasized that church law will yield to the civil process.

The Archdiocese said it placed Pohl on leave Aug. 14 while the FBI determines if he possessed or distributed child pornography.


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