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Sexual predators often among the least suspected

Editor's note: Father Robert "Bob" Poandl was sentenced last week to serve 7½ years in prison for taking a 10-year-old boy across state lines, from Ohio to West Virginia, for sexual purposes, in 1991. Poandl served at three Catholic missions, in Claxton, Pembroke, and Glennville, as recently as 2012.


Thankfully this child predator is behind bars and away from kids. This brave victim and his family are to be commended for their courage and for not giving up, and it has now become known that three more victims of Father Robert (Bob) Poandl have come forward.

Something to keep in mind  — they are very cunning and manipulative. They know every trick on how to groom, threaten, lie and put the fear of God into their victims and, sometimes, even their family members. They also appear to do a lot of good things, they can be very charismatic and you may think they would never harm a child. They have to be this way in order to not get caught and to continue to abuse.

Sexual predators are often powerful and well-loved. It would be comforting if those who preyed on the vulnerable were obvious social misfits whose appearance would somehow set off alarm bells and give us the willies or the creeps. They rarely do. Usually, predators are among the last people we would suspect of sexually violating others. While they are grooming the child and even family members, they devote lots of time and energy building trust with them by giving them money and gifts. They tend to make the child feel that they are special and loved.

Also, we must stop thinking that because a man is old, that somehow he's automatically safe. It's just irresponsible to endanger kids by assuming an adult is harmless simply because he or she may be losing hair, wearing glasses, using hearing aids or walking with a cane. These can be signs of advancing age, but they are not signs that an individual is safe around kids.

It takes a lot of courage to speak up and take action about being sexually abused. This is not an easy thing to do, but it is extremely rare that a child predator has only one victim. Some have many. Child predators need to be kept far away from kids forever. So let's hope that anyone who may have knowledge, or may have been harmed by Father Bob, will find the courage to come forward and contact law enforcement, no matter how long ago it happened.

Your silence only hurts and, by speaking up, there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth and, therefore, protecting others.

Judy Jones
SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests


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