Monday, February 17, 2014

Former Mississippi priest sent to prison

Robert PoandlA Catholic priest, who years ago served in five Mississippi parishes, was sentenced to 7½ years in prison Wednesday on federal child sex abuse charges.

Father Bob Poandl was found guilty in September in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati. He brought a 10-year-old Cincinnati old boy to Spencer, W.Va., in August 1991 and sexually assaulted the child.

His first assignments after taking his holy vows were in Mississippi, where he worked from 1968-73 at Catholic parishes in Aberdeen, Amory, Okolona, Houston and Fulton. 

Catholic officials transferred Poandl to different parishes about 30 times in his 44 years in the priesthood.

“That alone is a serious red flag,” Judy Jones, a member of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said in a news release. 

 “A number of bishops and other church officials have acted dreadfully in this case, even in recent years. Despite this victim’s credible abuse report, Catholic officials put Father Poandl back on the job as recently as 2012.

“This brave victim and his family should be praised for their courage and their determination,” Jones said in the release. “We fear there could be many others who have been hurt by Father Poandl and are still suffering in silence and shame.”

She said SNAP is calling on the Catholic Diocese of Jackson to visit each parish where Poandl was assigned and ask anyone who may have knowledge of or suspicions about clergy sex crimes to contact police.

Diocese of Jackson communications director Mary Woodward said her office has sent two letters to all of the state’s parishes — one informing them of the allegations and a second informing them of Poandl’s conviction. Parishes also have been visited, she said.

“We sent the letters as soon as the allegations came out, asking anyone who had been abused to come forward and report it,” Woodward said. “Another letter was sent more recently. If anyone is aware of abuse, they are asked to contact the victims’ assistance program at Catholic Charities.”

SNAP also encourages victims or those who know of crimes to contact local law enforcement.