Rev. Robert Poandl: Man testifies he plotted to kill priest who sodomized him

NOTE: Graphic details were discussed during Wednesday's testimony that may be difficult to read or considered inappropriate.

CINCINNATI – A man testified Wednesday that Rev. Robert Poandl sodomized him in a church rectory when he was 10 years old and he later plotted to kill the priest and commit suicide.

The accuser, now 32, said he was haunted by nightmares, experimented with LSD and cocaine while in school and later became addicted to Oxycodone.

He said Poandl “screwed up my life by raping me.”

"I wanted to go and kill him, punish him for what he's done," the accuser said.

Poandl, of Fairfield-based Glenmary Home Missioners, faces one count of transportation of a minor across state lines for illicit purposes. He has pleaded not guilty.

In startling testimony in federal court Wednesday, the accuser testified he never told anyone about the attack for 18 years.

"I didn't tell a single human being until 2009," he said.

He said he felt helpless. He worried that Poandl could hurt other kids, but he feared what he would go through if he brought charges against a priest.

He testified that he tracked down Poandl online and discovered he was at a mission in Georgia.

Prosecution: “You were going to hunt down the defendant and take his life?

Accuser: “Yes.”

Prosecution:  “Did you contemplate suicide?”

Accuser: “Yes.”

Prosecution: “Did you write a note?

Accuser: “Yes.”

He testified that he had a 12 gauge shotgun, directions and his car packed.

But he finally told his fiancee and his mother about the attack, the accuser said. His parents came to his home and he gave them the shotgun and the suicide note, he said.

Later that year, the accuser pressed charges against Poandl in West Virginia, where the attack allegedly took place.

Prosecution: “Did you ever file a lawsuit against Glenmary?”

Accuser:  “No.”

Prosecution: "Against the Catholic Church?

Accuser:  “No.”

Prosecution: “Against Father Poandl?”

Accuser:  “No.”

“All I want is for him to be in a prison and to protect other kids, that's what I want," the accuser said.

The accuser said Poandl attacked him after he fell asleep on an overnight trip with the priest to Spencer, W.Va., in 1991.

"I awoke and he was sodomizing me. I cried out, ‘What are you doing to me?’" the accuser said.

"He replied, 'We're having sex.'"

When they retired for the night, the accuser and Poandl took separate beds in a rectory bedroom at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, he said.

He testified that he woke up a first time and Poandl was fondling him.

“He had his hand in my pants fondling my genitals," the accuser said.

He said he asked Poandl what he was doing and Poandl said was checking to see if he was wearing underwear.

The accuser testified that Poandl went back to his bed, but he awoke again to find Poandl sodomizing him.

Prosecution: “Was your underwear off?”

Accuser:  “Yes.”

Prosecution: "Were you on your stomach or your back?”

Accuser: “Stomach.”

The prosecution asked what the accuser did then.

"I just sat there and got raped," he said.

Prosecution: "Did he finish?"

Accuser: “Yes.”

Afterward, the accuser said, Poandl stood up, held out his hands and repeated, "I did a bad thing."

“You sinned and I sinned. We need to pray,” Poandl said, according to his accuser.

And they both prayed, the accuser said.

Poandl also told him “this was between you and me and god and that's all that needs to know,”  the accuser said.

When the accuser’s mother testified Tuesday, she said she pleaded with her son to go on the overnight trip with Poandl after Poandl had given their struggling family $800 a week earlier.

The woman testified that her son at first refused to go, but she persisted.

"Father Bob has been so good to us,” she recalled telling her son.

The accuser recounted that Wednesday. He said he remembered that it was the “summer before fifth grade.”

He said Poandl showed up at the family’s Price Hill home on a Saturday afternoon.

His mom asked the boy if he would go on a trip with Poandl because the priest needed someone to keep him awake during the long drive.

The accuser said his teenage brother refused to go and his oldest brother was doing something with school.

“Mom says to me, "He's been very good to us. He's helped us out," the accuser testified.

The accuser testified that the drive was long and boring and he fell asleep.

“Father Bob woke me up and said I was supposed to be navigating,” he testified.

He said everything had seemed normal, but Poandl seemed upset that he had fallen asleep.

The accuser said it was dark when they arrived at the church. He said no one else was staying in the rectory.

The accuser said they stayed in a small upstairs bedroom with two twin beds covered with quilts. There were religious paintings on the walls.

He said Poandl told him to take a shower and afterward he put on a T-shirt and

underwear. He said that’s what he usually wore to bed.

On the day after the attack, the accuser said he served as an altar boy while Poandl said Mass.

After the trip, he saw Poandl just two more times and Poandl was standoffish, the accuser said. And he told no one about the attack.

“I was completely humiliated," the accuser said.

He said he started having nightmares in seventh or eighth grade. Once in high school, he started drinking and smoking marijuana, he said.

He said he used drugs because he wouldn’t get nightmares.

He said he played football as a freshman and sophomore but he got kicked off the team for drinking. He was reinstated, but he said he preferred to smoke marijuana and "got lazy."

"I was very good and I threw it all away," he said.

He testified that he went out to dinner with his fiancee on a Saturday night in 2009, and she told him she wanted their kids to be Catholic.

"No way I'm going to raise my kids Catholic," he testified.

He said he was planning to kill Poandl and didn’t want her mixed up in that, so he broke up with her the next day.

But she texted him all day, he said, and he decided, "I at least owed her the truth."

He told her about the attack that night, he said.

They eventually got back together and plan to get married in June 2014, she testified Tuesday.

On cross-examination, the defense grilled the accuser about his drug use.

The accuser, who works in a pharmacy, said he no longer uses Oxycodone and never worked under influence of drugs.

Defense: “Did you lie to your employer (about your drug use)?”

Accuser: “No,  I did not tell I was taking.”

Defense: “Did the thought cross your mind to take pills from the pharmacy?”

Accuser: “I did not steal from the pharmacy.”

Defense: “You told detectives you hadn't committed any felonies?”

Accuser: “No, I didn't think of my past drug use as crimes.”

Former Cincinnati police Lt. Lawrence Handorf appeared as a prosecution witness Wednesday. He said Glenmary Home Missioners hired him in 2009 to look into allegations against Poandl.

He said he interviewed Poandl with his attorney present. He said Poandl acknowledged that he took boys on trips and said he would give them a "Catholic experience."

Handorf said Poandl denied sodomizing the accuser and couldn’t remember if had taken him to West Virginia.

Poandl said he sometimes helped the boy’s family with groceries and possibly money, Handorf said, but when he asked Poandl if he gave them $800,  Poandl asked where he would get that kind of money.

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 standing by Poandl, according to its president, Rev. Chester Artysiewicz. He said he has known Poandl for almost 50 years.

"We are all in favor of the truth. We are praying that the truth is attained," Artysiewicz said in a statement.

Glenmart serves rural communities and is not affiliated with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, according to Glenmary communications director Jean Bach.

In February 2012, Poandl was accused of sexual misconduct and was relieved of his ministerial duties, Bach said. The alleged incident took place nearly 30 years earlier when the victim was a minor, Bach said.

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, 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. 

He is always accompanied by at least one Glenmarian when he leaves the residence, she said.

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