Seat of Wisdom releases findings of Lieflander investigation

Editor’s note: On Dec.7 2021 The Current reported that an independent investigator had been instructed by Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College (SWC) to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct by former SWC music teacher Uwe Lieflander. That investigation has now concluded and on Mar.30 SWC posted the following update on its website:

As anticipated in the Summer of 2021, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College (“SWC” or “the College”) commissioned an investigation into allegations of misconduct against former choir master and music professor Uwe Lieflander in November 2021. The investigation is complete and an investigative report (the “Report”) has been produced.

The College wishes to thank the investigator, Elizabeth Grace, and her team at Lerners LLP, for their diligent, thorough, and professional work in producing this Report. We also wish to thank Dr. Natasha Duquette, Vice-President Academic and Dean of SWC, for her dedication to the task of coordinating the project and liaising between the investigative team and the College. Finally, we wish to thank all those who came forward with information—especially the main witness, who showed courage by sharing her story in the face of significant obstacles. The participation of all the interviewees in this investigation provided us with the opportunity to take a hard look at how we can improve in the area of student protection against abuse. For this the College is sincerely grateful.

While the Report contains privileged and confidential information, SWC is publishing the findings and conclusions of the investigation to uphold our principles of transparency and honesty.

The Report addresses three areas of focus and concludes, among other things, that while Lieflander engaged in emotional and psychological misconduct with a student of the College, the misconduct took on a sexual nature only after the student graduated and moved away from Barry’s Bay. There is no evidence or allegation that Lieflander engaged in misconduct with any other student during his tenure at the College. The Report also concludes that while the College responded to the allegations of sexualized misconduct appropriately, the policies and procedures then in place, as well as its oversight of Lieflander, were, by themselves, inadequate to detect or prevent his inappropriate behaviour.

The “Conclusions” to the third-party investigation are available as a PDF here. [Note: for readers’ convenience, The Current reproduces the PDF here.]

Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College(2022,Mar.30) Conclusions-document-28-March-2022 [PDF]. Retrieved from https://www.seatofwisdom.ca/conclusions-of-third-party-investigation-into-allegations-against-former-professor/

How will SWC respond to the Report?

SWC is committed to protecting the safety of community members. Since 2017, as a result of the 2017 allegations against Lieflander, the College has already made some changes to its oversight of faculty and staff members and to its policies and procedures to ensure the College is a safe place for all, including providing all students a mandatory, yearly presentation on consent.

In addition, the College is in the process of further strengthening its policies, procedures, and training in the relevant areas, including developing a stand-alone sexual violence policy to augment what is in the College’s Anti-abuse, Violence, and Harassment Policy.

The College is also planning to introduce training for faculty and staff in the area of developing and maintaining appropriate boundaries with students, in order to keep the relationship “friendly but professional,” in accordance with its policies.

The College has retained the services of legal counsel to conduct an audit of our policies and procedures to ensure they not only comply with legal requirements but also give the College the tools needed to ensure faculty and staff conduct themselves professionally, and to provide students and other community members avenues to raise concerns.

Will SWC release the Report?

At her request, the College has committed to protecting the privacy of the complainant and will continue to do so. In order to be as transparent as possible, SWC produces the conclusions of the Report here. The conclusions of the Report have been reproduced verbatim save for the initialization of Lieflander’s name and the redaction of staff positions to protect staff privacy. The complainant is referred to as “Witness A.”

The Report contains information protected by solicitor-client privilege as well as personal and identifiable information regarding the complainant and other members of the SWC community. As such, SWC will not release the Report. The College has committed to protecting the complainant’s privacy as well as the identity of cooperating witnesses at their request. Thus, in the service of transparency, the College is releasing the unredacted conclusions of the Report (save for the two exceptions noted above.)

What is SWC doing to help the complainant?

SWC deeply regrets any pain Lieflander caused the complainant. As noted in the Report’s Conclusions, the College responded to the allegations of sexualized misconduct appropriately by reprimanding Lieflander, giving him an opportunity to respond to the allegations, and by not renewing his contract. The College has also been in consistent communication with the complainant. Since learning of the allegations, SWC has provided funding for the complainant to receive counselling and continues to make that funding available to her. SWC has committed to keeping the complainant’s identity confidential to protect her stated desire for privacy. We will continue to do so. The complainant has been provided with a summary of the Report as well as its conclusions. We continue to be available to assist her in whatever way we are able.

Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College(2022,Mar.30) Conclusions of third-party investigation into allegations against former professor [news release]. Retrieved from https://www.seatofwisdom.ca/conclusions-of-third-party-investigation-into-allegations-against-former-professor/

One comment

  1. Eve-Marie Chamot

    They need to develop a more corporate approach to administration:- this has become a proper college with degree-granting privileges, numerous staff and numerous students, and several dedicated buildings and it is no longer just a few retired professors giving informal lectures under the trees or in a living room with administration being conducted informally.
    One thing they might do is to retain an outside lawyer, such as Ms Grace, to act as an independent ombudsman where staff and students can direct concerns with administration and staff and other students etc confidentially.
    They also need to review the character of potential staff appointees a bit more carefully:- nowadays you can easily do a quick screening check on the Internet in just a few minutes.
    Other stuff that would help would be a proper orientation manual for students to explain what to do in such cases plus other general safety info such as dressing properly for the winter weather here and not walking or driving on the lake ice etc.

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