Priest in Child Porn Case Gets One Year

By Tim Bryant
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
May 11, 1996

A Jesuit priest who admitted getting a mail-order videotape showing two boys having sex got the minimum sentence on Friday - one year in prison.

Federal marshals then led the priest, Gerhardt B. Lehmkuhl, away in handcuffs.

Lehmkuhl could have received an 18-month sentence for getting child pornography through the mail. Lehmkuhl, 53, pleaded guilty Nov. 17. He is a lawyer as well as a priest.

His lawyer, Joseph Devereux Jr., asked U.S. District Judge Carol E. Jackson for leniency. Devereux said that Lehmkuhl's 11 years of free legal service to poor people "is a substantial contribution to this community."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia A. McGarry told Jackson that Lehmkuhl's legal work for about 200 people each year was part of his job with the Jesuits. He lived in Jesuit Hall at St. Louis University.

"He would not be doing this work if he were not a Jesuit priest," said McGarry, adding that the Jesuits had sent Lehmkuhl to law school. "To fall back on that now as a way to lower his sentence is inappropriate in this case."

Jackson ordered Lehmkuhl to get mental-health treatment after he is released from prison. After pleading guilty last fall, Lehmkuhl checked into a counseling center in Maryland.

Lehmkuhl told Jackson that he used to believe that when he viewed pornography "there was no victim involved." He added that he now realizes that those on such videos "are real people; they are hurt."

Jackson agreed to recommend that Lehmkuhl spend his sentence at the minimum-security federal prison camp in Duluth, Minn.

Lehmkuhl is among at least 45 people charged nationwide in an undercover sting operation run by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. In 1994, postal inspectors shut down a child porn distribution company in San Diego. The company had sold videotapes produced in Mexico and showing children as young as 7 having sex, postal authorities said.

On Oct. 19, agents searched Lehmkuhl's apartment after he had ordered a videotape called "Young Teen Catalog." The agents found that tape and seven other child pornography tapes.


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