LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The former pastor of a Louisville, Kentucky, parish pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge David J. Hale on Monday, in United States District Court, to charges of violating federal child exploitation laws, announced United States Attorney John E. Kuhn, Jr.
Stephen A. Pohl, age 57, voluntarily surrendered himself to the custody of the United States Marshals Service today, and will remain in custody until sentencing before Judge Hale on March 29, 2016 at 1:30 pm.
Pohl pleaded guilty to a single charge of knowingly accessing, via the Internet, with intent to view material that contained images of child pornography between January and August 2015. Pohl was initially charged with the same offense by criminal complaint on August 21, 2015. The complaint was filed after law enforcement officials executed two federal search warrants on August 12, 2015, in the work and living areas used by Pohl in the parish office and rectory of St. Margaret Mary Catholic Community, located at 7813 Shelbyville Road, in Louisville, Kentucky.
The investigation began after a child told his mother that Pohl had taken pictures of him that made him feel “weird.” When the child’s parents confronted Pohl about the pictures of their son, they saw similar pictures of another child and reported the matter to law enforcement. Law enforcement officials obtained the search warrants based on the inappropriate images. It is important to note that no child pornography images of Saint Margaret Mary school children were found on the digital devices seized and examined as a result of the search warrants. All child pornography evidence and the charge in this case relate to Pohl’s online searches and viewing.
Law enforcement officials arrested Pohl in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, on Friday evening, August 21, 2015. Pohl was then held at the Pinellas County Jail until his transfer to the custody of the United States Marshals Service. He appeared in United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky on September 2, 2015.
Assistant United States Attorney Jo E. Lawless is prosecuting the case. The Federal Bureau of Investigation in conjunction with Louisville Metro Police Department’s Crimes Against Children Unit conducted the investigation.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”