Protestors call for Legacy Christian Academy defunding ahead of criminal trial

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Protestors call for Legacy Christian Academy defunding ahead of criminal trial
WATCH: Alumni gathered in front of Legacy Christian Academy Sunday to protest the provincial government's funding of the school. Global's Gates Guarin has more on the abuse allegations surrounding the institution and the call from former students. – Jun 9, 2024

Former students of Legacy Christian Academy in Saskatoon and other protestors gathered outside Mile Two Church on Sunday, calling for the government to stop funding the school.

“We really would like to see the provincial government stop funding this place with public tax dollars,” spokesperson Caitlin Erickson said. “It’s absolutely insane that they continue to double down and support this place.”

Erickson and other former students launched a $25-million class-action lawsuit against Mile Two Church in 2022, which runs the academy. Students claim they were physically and sexually abused during their time at the school.

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None of the allegations have been proven in court. Erickson said she expects a new date for the civil case to be scheduled for the fall.

Several former staff members of Legacy Christian Academy, which is funded by the Ministry of Education, are facing criminal charges stemming from the abuse allegations.

“We have a very large criminal trial starting on Monday, so this is an opportunity for the public to show their support for all of those students and former alumni of this place that have to get up and testify,” Erickson said.

John Olubobokun, former school director, will be in front of a judge Monday to begin his week-long trial on charges of assault with a weapon.

He will return to court at the end of June for more assault charges alongside former principal Duff Friesen. Friesen is also scheduled for an individual trial in August.

After several delays, former vice-principal and director Ken Schultz was rescheduled for trial at Court of King’s Bench to face charges of sexual assault and assault with a weapon in October 2024.

Former athletic director Aaron Benneweis has already been sentenced, after pleading guilty to sexual assault.

Click to play video: 'Sentencing submissions in sexual assault case'
Sentencing submissions in sexual assault case

More recently, Saskatoon police and the Ministry of Education confirmed the school is under investigation again.

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According to police, a report of assault was made last week involving a staff member and a young student.

No other details were released.

“The fact that there has been a new recent criminal complaint is just absolutely sickening,” Erickson said. “This is funding by our by our public dollars.

“This is why it was so important for the alumni who are now adults and now have the ability to speak out and bring this forward.”

The Ministry of Education told Global News it was aware of the protest on Sunday. It added it is important to support parent choice and the ability to access faith-based education in Saskatchewan.

“The Education Act, 1995, makes provision for the registration of independent schools,” the ministry said in a statement. “This provision allows parents/guardians to educate their children in accordance with their contentious beliefs, which may include faith-based education and provide them with a legitimate exemption from a public or separate school.”

Erikson said the case has seen more support from the public as time passes, but not from the government.

“We haven’t seen any change in the government saying that they’re going to defund them or saying we were wrong, we need to take a step back and evaluate. None of that has transpired really,” she said.

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Erickson’s hope is to get the school shut down.

“We knew that going public, these people were not going to self-evaluate here at Mile Two,” Erickson said. “That’s why the criminal and civil processes needed to happen, because they’re not going to do it themselves until they’re shut down.”

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