Today, an Ohio jury found Fr. Robert Poandl guilty of molesting a boy years ago.
But in the most crucial sense, this brave victim and his family won long before today.
The son won when he found the strength to tell his parents. His parents won the minute they believed their son. The family won when they decided to contact the police. They won again when police believed them. They won again when prosecutors believed them. They won again when criminal charges were filed in West Virginia. They won again when Fr. Poandl was taken off the job. They won again when criminal charges were re-filed in Ohio. They won again when news media (time and time again) put Fr. Poandl’s name out there as a credibly accused child molester, warning families about him and making it impossible for Catholic officials to put him back on the job.
Church officials transferred Fr. Poandl roughly 30 times in 44 years (sometimes to the same location twice) in Ohio, Texas, Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Pennsylvania.
Dozens and dozens of Catholic officials, in virtually every one of these places, have done nothing to warn parents, parishioners and the public about Fr. Poandl. In contrast, this courageous family has done everything responsible adults should do when they know about a predator. We are so, so proud of them!
We have a simple message to every current and former Catholic church employee and member: It’s never too late to share what you know or suspect with law enforcement officials. It’s up to us to pass on information. And it’s up to police and prosecutors to determine what will help them further prosecute or imprison a criminal.
We are worried that Fr. Poandl may receive a light sentence and spend little or no time behind bars. It’s crucial that the justice system has accurate information about Fr. Poandl and his crimes so that he can be appropriately sentenced. So it’s important for every single person who saw, suspected or suffered his crimes should now come forward to prosecutors.
And while we await his sentencing, let’s send our best wishes and deep gratitude to the brave family who has made sure that another child molesting cleric has been exposed and kept away from kids.