New details: Priest took 'child erotica' photos of St. Margaret Mary students

By Jennifer Weigel
August 24, 2015

[with video]

LOUISVILLE, Ky. —WLKY has obtained the arrest warrant in the case against Stephen Pohl.

According to the warrant and the detective in charge of the case, photos taken by Pohl, a former priest at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church constituted "child erotica."

Louisville Metro Police Crimes Against Children Detective Dan Jackman described child erotica as images, materials or items that are sexually arousing to certain individuals, but do not rise to the level of child pornography.

Pohl was arrested Friday evening in Florida. He resigned Thursday from his position at St. Margaret Mary.

According to the arrest warrant, Pohl took a group photo of St. Margaret Mary students during a meeting of an after-school club, but then pulled a 10-year-old boy to the side to take individual pictures.

The boy's mother told Jackman that the photos made her son feel "weird." The student told his mother that one group photo was taken and four individual photos were taken.

The boy said the first two pictures were taken with him sitting normally, but before the third picture, Pohl asked the boy to place his hands on the his knees and spread them.

The student's mother asked Pohl via email the next day to send her the photos. Pohl replied by sending the group picture and the first picture of the boy. The mother asked Pohl to send the other photos, but received no response. Soon after, the boy's mother sent another email to Pohl, asking for the other photos of her son, and received no response. The boy’s father left a voicemail for Pohl asking to meet with him about the photos, according to the warrant.

Pohl called the mother to say he was out shopping and that the pictures had been deleted. Moments later, the parents saw Pohl walk into the store in which they were shopping.

The parents saw that Pohl had his cellphone in his front pocket and approached him.

The student’s father told the detective that Pohl was “shaking like a leaf” as he handed over the phone. The student’s father found the photos of his son and several photos of other children. He recognized one boy as a St. Margaret Mary student posed in a similar manner to his son, according to the warrant.

The father told Pohl that the types of pictures on his phone were highly inappropriate, but Pohl said the boys chose their poses to show off their muscles.

Later in the day, Pohl called the boy’s father and asked to meet with the family to apologize to the boy, but the father said no, according to the warrant.

The student’s father contacted the parents of the other St. Margaret Mary student whom he had seen on Pohl’s phone.

When Jackman spoke to the second boy and the his parents, the child described the two separate occasions on which Pohl had taken photos.

The child described Pohl taking about 15 photos of the boy alone and posed on bleachers in the school gym with a volleyball placed on his knee and then with the volleyball between the his knees, according to the warrant.

During the investigation, Pohl admitted to taking the photographs. In an interview with law enforcement, Pohl said he posed the child in a manner to "make him seem more manly." Jackman discovered more than 150 photographs Pohl had taken of schoolchildren, including pictures that Pohl claimed to have deleted.

The warrant said Pohl claimed that the pictures were submitted to the parish communication director to be used on the school’s Facebook page. The communication director told Jackman that Pohl had submitted only one group photo of a school club that month.

An examination of the hard drives from Pohl’s office and home computers showed the presence of child pornography. The images were not downloaded, but rather appeared in the cache, indicating that he had accessed and viewed materials, but did not download or purposely store them.

The arrest warrant details the content of several of the images.

Pohl is charged with knowingly accessing with intent to view material that contained an image of child pornography that had been transported using any means or facility of interstate commerce and foreign commerce by any means including by computer.

Initially, Pohl told law enforcement officials that they would not find anything shocking or alarming on his computer, but later told Jackman that there were some items on his computer that probably shouldn’t be there.

Pohl faces maximum potential penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000.00 fine and at least five years of supervised release.

Pohl was scheduled to appear Monday in federal court in Florida.

Sources told WLKY the school principal notified parents Monday that, according to Detective Jackman, identifying the children in the pictures will take time. At this point, no families have been contacted by detectives.


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