Rev. Robert Poandl: Ohio priest found guilty in child sexual abuse case

CINCINNATI - A Catholic priest accused of molesting a 10-year-old boy 22 years ago showed no emotion when he was found guilty of sex charges in federal court Friday.

Rev. Robert Poandl, of Fairfield-based Glenmary Home Missioners, was convicted of one count of transportation of a minor across state lines for illicit purposes.

Poandl, 72, faces up to 10 years in prison at sentencing.

When his verdict was read, Poandl's face didn't move. Around him, there were tears and bursts of emotion. Behind him, a man shouted, "Thank God."

No bond was set on Poandl. He was ordered to have no contact with minors and a judge said he will be fitted with a global tracking device.

A victims' advocate group, SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, applauded the verdict.

"We are grateful that Fr. Robert Poandl has been found guilty ... However, we are worried that he may receive such a light sentence," said SNAP director David Clohessy.

"We are especially grateful to this brave victim and his family ... Because of their compassion and determination, this dangerous predator will always be publicly known as a child molester.

"We hope Fr. Poandl will be spending a long time behind bars away from innocent children."

Judy Jones of SNAP, who attended the trial all week to show support for the victim and his family, said she was "relieved."

"We hope that anyone else has been hurt by Bob, to please report it. He can still be punished," Jones said.

[NOTE: Graphic details were discussed during testimony that may be difficult to read or considered inappropriate]

The jury of eight women and four men had the task of weighing the accuser's startling testimony against the defense's claim that the former drug user made it all up.

The accuser, now 32, testified that Poandl sodomized him in a West Virginia church rectory in 1991. The man said he suffered nightmares after the attack, experimented with LSD and cocaine, got hooked on Oxycodone and plotted to kill the priest and commit suicide.

The accuser testified that Poandl "screwed up my life by raping me."

"I wanted to go and kill him, punish him for what he's done," the accuser said.

During closing arguments, the U.S. attorney said Poandl groomed his victim's family by giving them money and earning their trust with the intent to molest the boy.

The defense argued that the trip to West Virginia never happened, attacking the accuser's drug use and credibility.

Federal prosecutors charged Poandl after a West Virginia state court dismissed sex and assault charges against him in 2010.

Outside the courtroom Thursday, Poandl's brothers, David and Edward, said they believed in Robert's innocence and they were standing by him during these "dark times."

The accuser said Poandl attacked him after he fell asleep on an overnight trip with the priest to Holy Redeemer Church.

"I awoke and he was sodomizing me. I cried out, ‘What are you doing to me?'" the accuser said.

"He replied, 'We're having sex.'"

When they retired for the night, the accuser and Poandl took separate beds in a rectory bedroom, he said.

He testified that he woke up a first time and Poandl was fondling him.

"He had his hand in my pants fondling my genitals," the accuser said.

He said he asked Poandl what he was doing and Poandl said was checking to see if he was wearing underwear.

The accuser testified that Poandl went back to his bed, but he awoke again to find Poandl sodomizing him.

Prosecution: "Was your underwear off?"

Accuser:  "Yes."

Prosecution: "Were you on your stomach or your back?"

Accuser: "Stomach."

The prosecution asked what the accuser did then.

"I just sat there and got raped," he said.

Prosecution: "Did he finish?"

Accuser: "Yes."

Afterward, the accuser said, Poandl stood up, held out his hands and repeated, "I did a bad thing."

"You sinned and I sinned. We need to pray," Poandl said, according to his accuser. And they both prayed, the accuser said.

Poandl also told him "this was between you and me and god and that's all that needs to know,"  the accuser said.

When the accuser's mother testified Tuesday, she said she pleaded with her son to go on the overnight trip with Poandl after Poandl had given their struggling family $800 a week earlier.

The woman testified that her son at first refused to go, but she persisted.

"Father Bob has been so good to us," she recalled telling her son.

The accuser recounted that Wednesday. He said he remembered that it was the "summer before fifth grade."

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