Louisville priest pleads not guilty to federal child porn charge - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville priest pleads not guilty to federal child porn charges

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Image Source: Pinellas County Sheriff's Office Image Source: Pinellas County Sheriff's Office

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Louisville priest, who was the head of a local Catholic parish until last week, pleaded not guilty to federal child porn charges.

Father Stephen Pohl resigned from St. Margaret Mary Parish last week and was arrested Friday near Tampa, Florida.

Investigators say when searching Pohl’s computer, they found evidence he looked at pictures of naked kids as young as six and also had images on his phone of a local student in his underwear.

Father Pohl's federal charges relate to viewing child porn. Investigators say hard drives taken from a computer in his office and a laptop in the rectory where he lived, showed evidence that Pohl looked at pictures of naked children between the ages of six and 16.

Before the search, Pohl allegedly told investigators, "there were some items on [his] computer that probably should not be there."

This investigation started after a 10-year-old boy told his parents about an incident he considered "weird".

According to the arrest affidavit, Father Pohl asked if he could take pictures of the boy during an after school club at Saint Margaret Mary in Louisville.

He sat the boy on the steps, took a couple of normal photos, then asked the boy "to place his hands on his knees and move his legs apart".

Investigators say in one of the pictures, "the camera has been focused on the child's genitals."

After several attempts to get those pictures, the boy’s parents confronted Pohl outside a store and found images of their son and other students on his phone.  Investigators also found more than a dozen of a boy who posed on the bleachers in the school gym holding a volleyball.

"You just don't think a priest is going do anything unseemly or illegal or whatever, and then you start putting the pieces together and are like 'well dag-gone, that's what he was doing,'" said Cal Pfeiffer, a member of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

"You know I think it's a good lesson for all children,” said Pfeiffer.  “If they feel uncomfortable -- that something isn't right -- it probably isn't right. You know, go to the parents, parents go to the police, they're the ones who are gonna take it serious and look into it."

In all, investigators say Pohl had more than 150 pictures of kids from the local Catholic school, but since they're posed in provocative positions, yet wearing clothes, police said they're considered child erotica and not child porn.

“You know he needs to be held to the full account of the law," said Pfeiffer.

U.S. Marshals will bring Pohl back to Louisville where he faces 10 years in prison if convicted.

More: Disturbing new evidence emerges against former pastor of St. Margaret Mary Parish

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