SWC appoints leading sexual abuse lawyer to spearhead Lieflander investigation

Following publicity surrounding sexual abuse allegations against former music teacher Uwe Lieflander who was employed at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College, (2007-2017), SWC announced in early August that it would arrange for an independent investigation. On December 2, The Current received a media release advising that SWC has retained Toronto lawyer Elizabeth Grace “to uncover the facts surrounding the allegations as they relate to SWC and its community of alumni, students, staff, and faculty members.” Among her achievements Grace was recognized by Canadian Lawyer Magazine as one of Canada’s Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers in 2014 for her commitment to advocating on behalf of victims of sexual abuse. Above Elizabeth Grace. Photo: lawandstyle.ca

SWC’s announcement requests anyone with information regarding any form of sexual misconduct perpetrated by Lieflander during the period of 2007–2017 to come forward no later than Feb.4 2022. Grace may be contacted by email to swcinvestigation@lerners.ca or by telephone at 1-833-913-7718. Alternatively information may be shared with SWC’s Vice-President Academic, Dr. Natasha Duquette, Vice-President at swcinvestigation@seatofwisdom.ca who will forward information after review to Ms. Grace for her consideration and/or follow up as she deems appropriate.

Ottawa Police Services issued a warrant for Lieflander in 2019, who is believed to be still living in his native Germany. The story of one of his alleged victims was published in July of 2021, and attracted international attention. LINK: https://www.simchafisher.com/2021/07/01/canadian-college-church-and-community-ignored-predatory-choirmasters-red-flags/

The Current reached out to Grace and Duquette for information about the scope of the investigation, including how they plan to contact all potential victims of abuse that occurred up to fifteen years ago. Grace responded to say that as the investigator she would not directly engage with media about the investigation. Duquette replied saying that she emailed a letter to all alumni from the years 2007-2017 when the announcement was posted on Dec.2. She said further letters were also emailed on Dec.6 to all alumni in SWC’s database, as well as present-day staff and faculty; past faculty and staff will be emailed Dec.7. Saying her aim was to be as thorough as possible, Duquette confirmed she has compiled and provided to Grace a list of potential witnesses (faculty and staff, past and present, and former students) and is adding to that list as people come forward. Follow-up telephone calls are being planned as well. Duquette also said she was forwarding any new information at her own discretion, that the investigation is her top priority and that SWC hopes to report by March 1, 2022.

The announcement and letters from SWC include an offer of up to $150 per session for up to seven sessions of counselling for each witness or survivor who comes forward. The choice of a certified therapist will be theirs.

Click HERE for the media release on SWC website.

Editor’s note: This article was amended on Dec.7 to clarify that SWC contacted alumni from 2007-2017 on Dec.2.

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