Deceased Jesuit priest, former Canisius College employee, accused of sex abuse in new lawsuit

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Canisius College is the newest target of a Child Victims Act lawsuit. It’s the first time the school has been named as a defendant in a lawsuit related to clergy sex abuse since the CVA window opened up in August.

School officials say they are cooperating with the accuser’s attorney.

The accuser, Matthew Ebert, claims that he was abused by Rev. Charles Lehmkuhl while the Jesuit priest worked at Canisius. In the lawsuit filed Tuesday, Ebert says “Father Lehmkuhl engaged in unpermitted sexual contact” with him from 1973 until 1983 when the minor was between the ages of 7 and 17.

The lawsuit refers to Lehmkuhl as “a father figure and spiritual leader” for Ebert.

Ebert was never a student at Canisius, school officials tell News 4.

“The sole basis for Canisius College being named in this suit is the fact that Fr. Lemkuhl was employed at the college and that some of the acts are alleged to have occurred on college property during the summer when Mr. Ebert came to Canisius to visit Fr. Lemkuhl,” school officials said in a statement.

Lehmkuhl died in 1995.

“Other than Mr. Ebert’s claim, at no time did Canisius ever receive any notice of any other claim against Fr. Lemkuhl,” the Canisius statement continued. “He does not appear on the Jesuits’ USA Northeast Province list of Jesuits with credible accusations of sex abuse. The college has notified the Province of this claim.”

Ebert’s attorney did not return calls for comment.

Canisius College was notified earlier this year of Matthew Ebert’s claim against Fr. Charles Lemkuhl, S.J., a longtime member of the Canisius College faculty who died in 1995. We have been cooperating with Mr. Ebert’s counsel to provide information about Fr. Lemkuhl, his tenure at Canisius, and his status as a member of the Jesuits’ former New York Province.

Fr. Lemkuhl is alleged to have been a family friend of Mr. Ebert, who was never a student at Canisius College. The sole basis for Canisius College being named in this suit is the fact that Fr. Lemkuhl was employed at the college and that some of the acts are alleged to have occurred on college property during the summer when Mr. Ebert came to Canisius to visit Fr. Lemkuhl.

Other than Mr. Ebert’s claim, at no time did Canisius ever receive any notice of any other claim against Fr. Lemkuhl. He does not appear on the Jesuits’ USA Northeast Province list of Jesuits with credible accusations of sex abuse. The college has notified the Province of this claim.

The college will be responding to the lawsuit in due course.”

Canisius College Statement

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