Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

February 12, 2014

Priest in W.Va. child abuse case gets 7 1/2 years


Associated Press

CINCINNATI — An Ohio priest convicted of taking a 10-year-old boy to West Virginia for sex more than two decades ago was sentenced Wednesday to seven and a half years in prison.

Robert Poandl was sentenced in federal court in Cincinnati on one count of transporting a minor in interstate commerce with the intent of engaging him in sex. Prosecutors say the priest from suburban Cincinnati took the boy to Spencer, W.Va., in 1991 and raped him while visiting a church there.

Poandl, who was convicted in September, continued to maintain his innocence Wednesday.

“I have never ever abused anyone ever,” the 72-year-old priest said in addressing the judge prior to sentencing.

The victim, who now is in his 30s, also spoke in court prior to sentencing, saying that the priest had “put hate into my heart.”

The accuser, looking directly at Poandl much of the time, said that the abuse caused anger and shame.

“It is time for justice to finally be served,” he told the court.

The Associated Press generally doesn’t identify people who say they were sexually abused.

The accuser didn’t tell West Virginia law enforcement officials until 2009 that he’d been abused. Poandl was indicted there on charges accusing him of sexually abusing the boy, but a judge dismissed those charges in 2010.

Prosecutors told jurors the priest told the boy’s parents he needed someone to ride with him to keep him awake and navigate, and then raped the boy after they arrived at the West Virginia church. The priest then told the boy that they had sinned and needed to pray for forgiveness, a prosecutor said.

But Poandl’s attorney told jurors that the accuser’s story changed through the years and was full of inconsistencies.