CINCINNATI - Judy Jones says she knows how hard it is for people who are sexually abused by priests to come forward.
“I grew up in southeast Ohio and my brother was sexually abused. My parents wouldn’t even believe their own son,” said Jones, Midwest Director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). “That’s why I’m here.”
Jones and other victims advocates are coming to federal court this week to show support for the man who was 10 years old when he was allegedly molested by Rev. Robert Poandl 22 years ago.
The alleged victim's fiancee took the stand Tuesday morning as testimony began. A jury was seated and opening arguments were completed on Monday.
“I’m here to support the victim and the family and sit on their side. Typically the priest has a lot of supporters on their side,” said Jones.
Jones said most priest-child sex abuse cases don’t get to trial.
“It’s rare. When it does, we want the victim and the family to know they’re not alone. I’ll be here for as long as it takes,” Jones said.
There are almost 4,000 credibly accused priests on a list at BishopAccountability.org , Jones said, and “not many of them get prosecuted.”
She said many victims – especially males – are reluctant to come forward.
In Poandl’s case, the alleged victim didn’t tell anyone about the assault for 18 years, according to court records.
“It’s hard to come forward, especially for men. I know a couple in their 80s who just spoke up. They never even told their wives,” Jones said.
“It’s embarrassing, shameful to them. They’re victims, they were just kids, but they blame themselves,” Jones said. “Molesters are manipulative and cunning. They make friends with families and many of their victims are afraid to say anything.
“The statute of limitations stops a lot of them from getting to trial,” she said.
Poandl, of Glenmary Home Missioners in Fairfield, faces one count of transportation of a minor across state lines for illicit purposes.
A federal grand jury indictment charges that Poandl, now 71, took a 10-year-old Cincinnati boy to Spencer, W.Va., and sexually assaulted him in a church rectory in August, 1991.
Poandl, known as Father Bob, has pleaded not guilty.
Federal prosecutors charged Poandl after a West Virginia state court dismissed sex and assault charges against him in the case in 2010.
Glenmary Home Missioners is a religious order that serves rural communities and is not affiliated with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, according to Glenmary communications director Jean Bach.
U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett held two requests by prosecutors for review Monday.
The government is seeking to portray Poandl as a repeat child molester and to bar the defense from introducing the West Virginia proceedings at the trial.
The government accuses Poandl of molesting two other boys under “remarkably similar” circumstances in May 1981 - 10 years before the alleged attack in West Virginia – and May 1984. The government says:
➢ All three boys were about 10 years old;
➢ Poandl had met their parents through Worldwide Marriage Encounter. The WME website identifies it as a Catholic faith-based program designed to bring husbands and wives closer together.
➢ Poandl had asked the parents’ permission for their sons to spend the night with him.
➢ Poandl allegedly molested them in a rectory or a church.
In addition, it says two of the alleged attacks happened while the boy was in bed asleep, and the other happened when the boy was in a bathtub.
Last month, the defense asked Barrett to throw out the case, saying a five-year statute of limitations should apply. While federal law permits prosecution for child sexual abuse anytime during the victim's life, the defense argued that shouldn't apply because the federal charges cite the transportation of the child and not the act of sexual abuse.
Barrett rejected that.
Poandl was accused of sexual misconduct in February 2012 and was relieved of his ministerial duties as pastor of Glenmary's missions in Claxton, Pembroke and Sandhill, Ga., according to Bach.
The incident allegedly took place nearly 30 years earlier and the victim was a minor, Bach said.
After that, 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, Bach said.
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, Bach said.
Poandl is prohibited from leaving the Glenmary residence except for legal or medical appointments, Bach said.
“Obviously, he had to go to court today, but he’s always accompanied by at least one Glenmarian when he’s outside the residence,” she said.
Prior to 2009, when the alleged West Virginia victim came forward, “there were no known accusations or incidences known,” Bach said. “There were two accusations that came after” the West Virginia accusation.
Police said Poandl brought the boy to West Virginia when he filled in for the regular
priest one weekend at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church.
After state charges were dismissed, his record there was expunged.
Poandl faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
See statements from Glenmary Home Missioners at http://www.glenmary.org/site/epage/139358_919.htm