Louisville priest pleads guilty to accessing child pornography - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville priest pleads guilty to accessing child pornography

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Stephen Pohl Stephen Pohl

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Louisville priest facing a federal child pornography charge pleaded guilty Monday afternoon.

Former St. Margaret Mary Parish pastor Stephen Pohl was scheduled to go on federal trial this month, but during a 1:30 p.m. hearing in federal court, he pleaded guilty to "accessing, with intent to view, material that contained an image of child pornography, shipped and transported in interstate commerce via computer."

Pohl was taken into custody right after his hearing. 

"Under the agreement with the United States, the parties agree that a sentence of 33 months under the federal sentencing guidelines is appropriate," Pohl's Attorney, Ted Shouse said. 

The plea agreement also requires lifetime supervision and Pohl has to register as a sex offender. 

"For the sake of St. Margaret Mary Parish and our local Church, we welcome the news that Father Pohl is pleading guilty and accepting responsibility for his actions," the Archdiocese of Louisville said in a statement sent out Monday afternoon. 

Court documents say this investigation began after a student at the parish's school told his parents that Pohl took pictures of him and it felt "weird." 

Investigators eventually got a search warrant and found other pictures of students, but none were considered to be child pornography. 

They did however find Pohl had accessed child porn online. 

"What Father Pohl plead guilty to today was going on the Internet and viewing images of minors exposing themselves to the camera," Shouse told reporters.  

Pohl was arrested in August and initially pleaded not guilty to the charge. 

We asked his attorney why he decided to plead guilty: 

"There's a lot of reasons that someone would enter a guilty plea," Shouse said. "And I think we can address that more fully at our sentencing hearing which is March the 29 at 1:30."

If the judge does not sentence Pohl to what's laid out in the plea deal, he can take back his guilty plea and go to trial.

Related Stories: 

Grand jury indicts former Louisville pastor on child exploitation charges

Ex-St. Margaret Mary priest to be released on home incarceration pending outcome of child porn charges

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

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