Stephen A. Pohl, the `former pastor of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Louisville, Kentucky, was arrested in Indian Rocks Beach Friday, August 21,and charged with possession of child pornography.
The disgraced priest resigned as pastor of St. Margaret Mary earlier this week after investigators found child porn on his computer and found that Pohl had taken “inappropriate” images of parish school children. After the allegations against him were announced, he left Kentucky to visit his sister who lives in Pinellas county.
An ongoing investigation by the Cyber Crimes Unit of the FBI found that Pohl had up to 200 photos of St. Margaret Mary schoolchildren on a computer, FBI officials said. Investigators revealed that all were clothed but that some of the photos were inappropriate. In the course of the investigation investigators also discovered that Pohl had downloaded child porn on his personal computer.
I find it troubling that Pohl – under active investigation for possession of child pornography – was allowed to travel outside of Louisville. It is common for suspects in major criminal investigations to be restricted from traveling. Unknown here, this child pornographer was free to roam in our community. It is similar to the recent case of Father Ysrael Bien – the Portland, OR priest under investigation for secretly filming children in school bathrooms – who fled the country during the course of the investigation and remains free. In both cases the dioceses involved should have been more pro-active in monitoring these priests and informing parishioners and the public of the charges against them.
In my experience the Catholic Church has been reluctant in the past to cooperate with secular authorities. Stephen A. Pohl has been arrested and now it is important that the Church fully cooperates with the FBI and investigates if there were any crimes beyond these recent allegations. Pohl has been a priest since 1985 and the church must release a complete accounting of every church facility where Fr. Pohl worked, even briefly. They must also encourage those churches to share any information or suspicions with the proper authorities. Last, they must release Pohl’s full personnel file to the FBI and allow them to complete their investigation.