Archdiocese: priest resigns, had 'inappropriate' photos of Parish children

Archdiocese: priest resigns, had 'inappropriate' photos of Parish children
Fr. Stephen Pohl (Source: stmm.org)
Fr. Stephen Pohl (Source: stmm.org)
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz (Source: James Thomas, WAVE 3 News)
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz (Source: James Thomas, WAVE 3 News)
Dr. Brian Reynolds (Source: James Thomas, WAVE 3 News)
Dr. Brian Reynolds (Source: James Thomas, WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Roman Catholic priest has resigned as pastor of his Lyndon parish, eight days after the Archdiocese of Louisville placed him on leave following admissions that the FBI cyber-crimes task force was investigating whether he possessed child pornography.

Via letter and at a news conference Friday, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz and Chancellor Dr. Brian Reynolds confirmed that Father Stephen Pohl submitted his resignation the day before.

"I encouraged him (Pohl) to cooperate with the investigation," Archbishop Kurtz said. "So that he knew we would not be conducting a parallel investigation right now."

[PREVIOUS STORY: Louisville priest placed on leave amid child porn investigation]

The FBI has declined comment, but Reynolds saidinvestigators have confirmed that a search of Pohl's personal computers and data devices revealed pornographic pictures and photographs of students at St. Margaret Mary School were taken on school grounds.

"I specifically ask whether these involved photographs of nudity, and they said 'no'", Reynolds told reporters. "We're informed that the children were fully clothed in the pictures, but the authorities described some of the pictures  as inappropriate."

Neither Reynolds or the Archbishop would say when those photographs were taken, or of whom.

"We want to cooperate, and not interfere," Archbishop Kurtz said. "That's our main focus right now."

Pohl began pastoral service at St. Margaret Mary in 2008. The parish school serves more than 700 children from kindergarten through eighth grade.

"There was a picture taken." Reynolds said. "I believe the child reported that to his parents. His parents then got a copy of the picture
and reported that to the authorities."

The Archdiocese has given no indication that it officially was aware of any investigation until August 12 when Pohl himself told the Archbishop the FBI cyber-crimes unit had visited.

"He cannot provide any pastoral care nor present himself as a priest," Archbishop Kurtz said.

"He's not living on church grounds," Reynolds said. "He's making his own accommodations."

Pohl is not facing criminal charges at this time. Thus far, he's been unreachable for comment, though Reynolds believes Pohl has hired an attorney.

"We've learned not to investigate these things but to turn it right over to the authorities," Reynolds said. "So within an hour of hearing about the warrant Ihad a conversation with the authorities myself."

Parishioners were informed of Pohl's resignation and of the allegations in meetings with Archdiocesan leaders Thursday night. WAVE 3 News contacted several members of St. Margaret Mary's Parish Council Friday. All declined comment on camera.

"We're heartbroken, is all I can tell you," said Virginia Worthington, a parish council member, via telephone. "All I can ask is that we pray for all involved."

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