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Catholic archdiocese accused of negligence in lawsuit

Catholic archdiocese accused of negligence in lawsuit

Parents of a young boy who claim their son was inappropriately photographed by a Roman Catholic priest – currently serving  a jail sentence – are suing the Archdiocese of Louisville in Kentucky for negligence.

The Rev Stephen Pohl, above, pleaded guilty in March to a federal charge of viewing child pornography. He admittedaccessing more than 100 pornographic images of nude underage boys on computers at the St Margaret Mary Catholic Church rectory and office. He was jailed for 33 months.

According to this report, while the criminal charge didn’t involve St  Margaret Mary students, investigators did discover hundreds of photos on Pohl’s computers depicting clothed Louisville students, some of which police deemed “child erotica”.

In the newly filed lawsuit, parents Daniel and Mary Agnes Hayden said their elementary school student was among the students secluded by Pohl, ordered into “inappropriate physical poses” and photographed.

Pohl “engaged in bizarre and unusual behavior” and took photos that were:

Designed to enable and did enable Pohl to satisfy his prurient and sexual interests.

The suit blasted the archdiocese, asserting church leadership learned nothing from the priest sex abuse scandal in the early 2000s and failed to aggressively investigate and root out Pohl at the multiple churches where he worked over three decades.

Archdiocese of Louisville spokeswoman Cecelia Price said the organisation hadn’t yet received the suit and doesn’t comment on pending litigation. But she said:

Families and others impacted by what occurred have been offered assistance, and a number of individuals have received help. We encourage any family who needs assistance to reach out to the parish or our Victim Assistance Coordinator.

The suit noted that Pohl was often seen with a camera around his neck at school and church events, photographed children “in plain view” of archdiocese employees and then stored the inappropriate images on church property, yet no questions were ever raised.

The child was pulled out of his kindergarten class at St Margaret Mary in 2014 by Pohl, who told the boy he was taking photos for the yearbook, the suit alleges. But no photos of the boy ever appeared in the yearbook.

Then at a school fish fry in February 2015, the parents momentarily left their son and other children alone in the care of Pohl in the school gym. When they returned, they found the priest had moved the youth to the school cafeteria, the suit details, and their son explained Pohl had taken more photos for the yearbook.

According to the suit, the child has since suffered emotional distress and now sees a counselor.

The suit, filed Friday in Jefferson Circuit court, seeks unspecified damages and a jury trial. It also asked that the pictures on Pohl’s computers be preserved as evidence.

Police were initially tipped off about Pohl after a 10-year-old St Margaret Mary student told his mother that the priest singled him out at an after-school club to take a number of “weird” photos on his cell phone.

The boy said Pohl had him pose with his hands on his knees and legs spread apart, according to court records.

When the boy’s parents confronted the priest about the pictures, they saw similar pictures of another child on the priest’s phone and reported it to law enforcement. Pohl was subsequently charged and fired.

5 responses to “Catholic archdiocese accused of negligence in lawsuit”

  1. Trevor Blake says:

    Parents who send their children to religious schools have also learned nothing from the abuse scandals of the early 2000s. Or 1990s. Or 1980s. Or 1970s. Or… well it seems either they haven’t and won’t learn anything, or a certain amount of child sacrifice remains acceptable to religious parents. As long as only some and not all children are abused by clergy, the pay-off of magic powers in the ghost world – I think they call it eternal glory in heaven – is worth it. Good show, Christian parents.

  2. Henry Villar says:

    Interesting how they apear to have a “victim assistance coordinator”. Seems like paedophilia is so wide spread within their institution that they need a department to handle it. Imagine the scandal if any other nonreligious institution had one.

  3. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    I hope this succeeds. The only way that any of these religious institutions will ever learn is to keep hitting them where it hurts, take money out of their bank accounts.

  4. AgentCormac says:

    My mother, now in her mid-80s, was a primary school teacher here in the UK for over forty years. While she was teaching there was no such such thing as the social services we know today. She’s told me that she could see, just by looking in their eyes, which children were being abused at home (always by the father, of course). In many cases she ended up teaching the children of those abused kids – and guess what, she could see they were being abused too. It was a horrendous cycle of the abused becoming abusers.

    These days I have good, intelligent catholic friends who refuse to accept that their church has anything to do with the perverts in its midst and who happily take their children along to church every Sunday to have them indoctrinated, just as they were. Their brains have been messed with since birth to ensure they question nothing and never step out of line. So yet another rogue, one-off deviant criminal like Pohl clearly doesn’t register at all. Although the barrel is brimming over with these so-called ‘rotten apples’ the abuse goes on.

    And while the millions of faithful around the world refuse to accept or acknowledge the reality around them, the behemoth that is the rcc will carry on using the tacit support of those faithful supporters to keep on growing stronger and wealthier while protecting some the vilest criminals in our society.

    Something has got to change.

  5. Koser says:

    The RCC has been “Designed to enable and did enable Pohl to satisfy his prurient and sexual interests.”