Former Pastor Pleads Guilty to Accessing Child Porn with Intent to View
January 4, 2016
The former pastor of St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church charged with child exploitation pleaded guilty at a change-of-plea hearing in federal court Monday.
Stephen Pohl resigned in August after allegations surfaced that he had accessed and viewed child pornography.
Pohl pleaded guilty to access with intent to view.
"What Father Pohl pled guilty to was going on the Internet, viewing images of minors exposing themselves to the camera. That's what we pled guilty to today," Ted Shouse said.
The judge will now decide whether or not to accept the plea.
As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors recommended two years and nine months in prison, lifetime supervised release and required registration as a sex offender and convicted felon.
Pohl was charged after a student at St. Margaret Mary's School told his parents the priest told him to pose for pictures that made him feel "weird." That sparked an investigation that prosecutors said led to Pohl's arrest and admission of guilt.
Police said in addition to the child porn, they found more than 150 pictures of St. Margaret Mary students on Pohl's computer. Police called those pictures "child erotica," not child pornography.
Prosecutors said none of the St. Margaret Mary students were involved in pornographic pictures.
The parents at St. Margaret Mary's school had no comment on Pohl's guilty plea.
The Archdiocese of Louisville issued a statements Monday on the plea which read in part, "For the sake of St. Margaret Mary Parish and our local church, we welcome the news that Father Pohl is pleading guilty and accepting responsibility for his actions."
As part of Pohl's plea agreement, if a judge does sentence him more than the 33 months recommended by the U.S. Attorney's office, the guilty plea can be thrown out and Pohl could go to trial.
The maximum sentence for Pohl's charge is 10 years in prison.
Sentencing is scheduled for March 29.