Warning: This story contains details some readers may find disturbing. Read at your own discretion.
A class action lawsuit for $25 million has been launched alleging that Mile Two Church Inc., who operated Legacy Christian Academy, located in Saskatoon, as well as a church, and a list of 21 named defendants, physically and sexually abused students prior to 2005.
That’s according to a court document that was released Tuesday, with former students Caitlin Erickson and Coy Nolin listed as the plaintiffs.
The document alleges that Erickson, Nolin, and other members of the church or students received psychological, mental, emotional, and spiritual harm, as well as physical or sexual assault or battery from the named defendants.
“Aaron Benneweis, a director of athletics at the School, engaged in sexual relationships with students and minor adherents and congregants of the Church,” claimed the document.
“Nathan Schultz, a worker of the Church, induced female minor adherents and congregants of the Church to, during Sunday School, to go with him to the bathroom where he would put candy on his penis and have the girl take the candy with her hands or mouth. On some occasions he cut the pockets out of his pants, and told the girls to reach into the pockets and ‘see what surprise I have for you.'”
It claimed that other employees, agents and representatives of Mile Two Church Inc. engaged in sexual relationships or sexual fondling of students or churchgoers as well.
None of these allegations have been proven in court.
The document alleges that corporal punishment was used as a correctional tool and said that this was reflective in the publications of Mile Two Church Inc., and Keith Johnson, who was a pastor at the church, as well as the director and principal of the school.
“Sometimes spankings will leave marks on the child. If some liberal were to hear this, they’d immediately charge us with advocating child-beating. Child beating is when an enraged parent who doesn’t love his child begins to beat up on him/her. Is that what I am advocating? Is that what the Bible tells us to do? What is the purpose in spanking our children? Primarily, it is to teach them that sin is wrong, that sin is always punished, and that sin always hurts them more than anyone else. Therefore, if we’re going to make a believer out of them, we’re going to need to ensure that the punishment is severe enough to make a lasting impression. Occasionally, proper discipline may leave welts,” reads one of the examples given by the document.
“Spanking should be a ritual. A ritual is any practice regularly repeated in a set, precise manner,” read another example.
Erickson claimed in the document that, “For allegedly ‘not trying hard enough’ or ‘having an attitude’, six paddles were administered on each of two or three occasions during Caitlin’s grade 12 year. On one occasion Caitlin was struck on the leg which caused her to limp during volleyball practice after being assaulted. The coach of the volleyball practice, Fran Thevenot forced Caitlin to perform individual, and isolating, additional strenuous exercise as a result of her limping.”
Nolin claimed in the document, “when he was 15 years old, following revelation that Coy is homosexual, and at Coy’s home, Coy was paddled by John Olubobokun with Simbo Olubobokun, (and two others) observing as witnesses.”
Erickson alleged that the school and church sold paddles and kept them in plain view.
The 32-page document lists other instances that the plaintiffs alleged resulted in paddling or physical or sexual assault.
“The Defendants, as principals, teachers, pastors and elders stood in a position of authority and total control over the members of the Plaintiff Classes, including the Plaintiffs, who were children in their care and supervision,” read the document.
“The conduct of the Defendants caused the members of the Plaintiff Classes, including the Plaintiffs, to blame themselves for the abuse endured at the hands of the Defendants.”
“Members of the Plaintiff Classes, including the Plaintiffs, lived in fear and anxiety during their attendance at the School and the Church, as a consequence of the conduct of the Defendants, for which the Defendants are in law responsible,” alleged the document.
Global News reached out to Legacy Christian Academy and Mile Two Church Inc. for a response, and Mile Two Church Inc. sent the following statement.
“The community of Mile Two Church is deeply troubled by the details of abuse reported by former students in the press. At this time, Mile Two Church has not seen the Statement of Claim, which is expected to contain the details reported in the press. We have to trust that the legal system will provide clarity around who did what to whom, and when, and will ultimately hold those responsible to account for their actions. We will thoroughly examine the Statement of Claim once we receive it. Until we have reviewed the Statement of Claim with legal counsel, no other public comments will be made at this time,” read the statement.