Priest to Be Sentenced for Pornography; Could Get 18 Months for Ordering Video of Boys

By Tim Bryant
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
May 10, 1996

A St. Louis priest who admitted that he got a mail-order videotape showing two boys having sex was caught in a crackdown on the largest commercial distributor of child pornography in U.S. history, authorities said.

Gerhardt B. Lehmkuhl, a lawyer as well as a priest, could get a year to 18 months in prison when he is sentenced today in U.S. District Court.

He pleaded guilty in November of ordering child pornography through the mail. After his plea, he checked into a counseling center.

Officials of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said Thursday that Lehmkuhl, 53, is among those snared in a two-year undercover operation called Project Special Delivery.

Postal inspectors focused their efforts on Overseas Male, a San Diego company that distributed child pornography from Mexico. Authorities said the company sold videos showing children as young as 7 having sex.

Authorities arrested Overseas Male's main distributor in 1994 in a routine border check in San Diego. The man who produced the videos was found dead last year in Mexico City. Authorities suspect he committed suicide after learning of the federal investigation.

The day after arresting the distributor, authorities seized at his house more than 200 videos, dubbing equipment to produce tapes and more than 2, 000 letters ready for mailing to potential customers nationwide. He was sentenced last month to five years in prison for distributing child pornography through the mail.

Postal inspectors began their inquiry in early 1994 after getting complaints from people who had received unsolicited catalogs from Overseas Male. Authorities said the company took in $ 10,000 a week during at least one six-month period.

After shutting down Overseas Male in San Diego, postal inspectors assumed control of the operation - renamed Island Male - and ran it undercover as a way to prosecute the firm's customers. Through their delivery of child pornography tapes, authorities got warrants for 130 searches in 36 states.

Lehmkuhl was among those picked up. Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia A. McGarry has said that agents found "Young Teen Catalog" and seven other videotapes Oct. 19 at Lehmkuhl's apartment in the 3600 block of Lindell Boulevard.

Mexican boys who looked to be 13 to 15 years old appeared in the videotape Lehmkuhl ordered, McGarry said.

Others arrested in Project Special Delivery included a man, 60, in Fort Myers, Fla. Authorities found at the man's home, which he shared with his mother, slides believed to have been made in the mid-1970s when he was a teacher in Wisconsin.

In Wichita, Kan., a paramedic who also served as a youth leader got a year in prison for getting child pornography through the mail. He had a child pornography collection that included more than 90 videotapes, authorities said.


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