CINCINNATI – A 32-year-old man took the stand Wednesday in federal court to confront the Fairfield priest who drove him across state lines for illicit sexual activity when he was 10-years-old.
“My name is David Harper. I am a survivor of Robert Poandl. I successfully fought to have him brought to justice,” Harper said in a statement after Poandl was sentenced to 90 months in prison.
Both Harper and Poandl were in the courtroom of U.S. District Court Judge Michael R. Barrett.
Before the sentencing hearing Poandl requested a lighter sentence because he said he is dying of cancer. Barrett delivered a harsher sentence than federal guidelines called for.
"Father Bob is a child predator and a pedophile," said a 36-year-old Georgia man who said Poandler victimized him too.
The man was granted permission to testify during the sentencing hearing.
Poandl was never convicted in relation to the accusations the man from Georgia made.
During the hearing Poandl maintained his innocencein Harper's case, and asked Barrett for mercy.
“I am aware of the fact that I need your mercy,” he said. “I am innocent of this. I am repulsed by child sexual abuse.
Barrett was considering a sentence of up to 96 months (eight years) based on the pre-sentence report. Poandl will now serve seven-and-a-half years.
Harper testified that Poandl raped him in 1991 on an overnight trip to a parish church in Spencer, W.Va. He said Poandl attacked him while he was sleeping in the parish rectory, and that Poandl apologized and said Mass the next day.
Harper’s mother testified he did not tell his parents or anyone else about the attack for 18 years until 2009. Harper 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.
Poandl is a member of Fairfield-based Glenmary Home Missioners, a religious order serving rural communities. It is not affiliated with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, according to an archdiocese spokesperson.
In a statement after the sentencing Glenmary’s president, Father Chet Artysiewicz said Wednesday’s sentencing was part of the legal process his order placed its trust in.
“I remain committed to continuing and further strengthening Glenmary’s efforts to protect children and vulnerable adults and will always take any allegations of Glenmarian’s improper behavior seriously,” Artysiewicz said.
Poandl was initially accused of sexually abusing Harper in June 2009. He was charged in Spencer, West Virginia where the initial charges were presented in court.
Eventually, West Virginia judge dismissed those state charges, and Poandl was reinstated as an active priest in September 2010.
In February 2012, Poandl was accused of sexual misconduct on the federal level and was relieved of his ministerial duties, a Glenmary spokesperson said. The alleged incident took place nearly 30 years earlier when the victim was a minor.
After that accusation, Poandl lived under a safety plan at Glenmary's Fairfield residence and was not allowed to function as a priest or wear the white collar.
Poandl was indicted in the West Virginia case 10 months later in November 2012. He was put under house arrest and required to wear an ankle bracelet, which the court monitors.
Poandl is prohibited from leaving the Glenmary residence except for legal or medical appointments and is always accompanied by at least one Glenmarian when he leaves the residence, the spokesperson said.
The Georgia man said it would only serve justice if Poandl served 10 years for the case involving a 10-year-old boy.
Harper said he chose to speak out about his abuse, not for money, but for the protection of children such as himself back in the 1990s.
“This is about justice and protecting children, which should also matter to the Catholic Church,” Harper said.
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