Former students of Saskatoon religious school file class action lawsuit

Former students who attended a Christian school and church in Saskatoon seek more than $25 million for alleged breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, battery, assault, inflicted mental suffering and conspiracy to injure minors.

A class action lawsuit is pending against 22 people affiliated with Mile Two Church and Legacy Christian Academy (formerly Saskatoon Christian Center and Christian Center Academy), including Keith Johnson – the church’s former pastor and principal and principal of the school – as well as several John does and Jane does.

Those named as defendants in the lawsuit worked as teachers, principals, principals and church or school staff.

The plaintiffs named in the case are Caitlin Erickson and Coy Nolin, who have spoken to local media about their alleged experiences as former students, as well as any other former students at the school who suffered abuse while there. the low.

Caitlin Erickson shares a statement with media and supporters outside the Court of Queen’s Bench in Saskatoon on August 9, 2022. (Libby Giesbrecht/650 CKOM)

Erickson spoke in Court of Queen’s Bench in Saskatoon on Thursday, sharing that she suffered sexual, physical and emotional abuse during her time as a student.

“Daily bullying, manipulation, isolation, destruction of self-esteem and abuse” were what Erickson and many other students experienced during their time at Christian Center Academy, Erickson said. .

She said they share compounded trauma from their time there.

“Many of us deal with this trauma every day of our lives,” Erickson said.

Legal adviser Grant Scharfstein said he expects more people to join the growing list of plaintiffs. Twenty people have already come forward.

According to court documents obtained by 650 CKOM, former students allege that punishments like paddling were routinely given for such minor situations as a student not completing homework or telling inappropriate jokes.

Students could also be paddled for disrespecting those in authority over them at school or church, for socializing with people who did not attend school or church, for wearing padding on their bottoms while paddling, being caught within six inches of another student of the opposite sex, and speaking negatively about school or church.

“The goals and teaching of the church and school are highly dependent on the views and teachings of the principal defendants, particularly those of its founder Keith Johnson,” the statement read. “These goals and teachings have permeated school and church policies and procedures.”

The document also references publications by Keith Johnson and Mile Two Church Inc. that encouraged parents and guardians to engage in significant corporal punishment to control children’s behavior, supposedly in accordance with God’s will. .

“Sometimes spankings leave marks on the child,” the statement read.

“What is the purpose of spanking our children? It is mainly about teaching them that sin is wrong, that sin is always punished, and that sin always hurts them more than anyone else.

“Therefore, if we want to make him a believer, we will have to make sure that the punishment is severe enough to make a lasting impression. Sometimes good discipline can leave its mark.

Scharfstein read aloud part of the statement on Thursday afternoon, where it stated that “spanking should be a ritual…repeated regularly in a definite and precise manner.”

Grant Scharfstein speaks to the media outside the Court of Queen’s Bench in Saskatoon on August 9, 2022. (Libby Giesbrecht/650 CKOM)

The pages of the statement set out allegations of physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual and sexual abuse, providing specific incidents that happened to the students during their time there.

In the document, an athletic director who worked at the school is named for allegedly “having sex with students…and church congregants.”

He also alleges that employees and representatives of Mile Two Church Inc. engaged in sexual relations and sexual fondling with students and people who attended the church.

None of these allegations have been proven in court.

Scharfstein said the legal process for that lawsuit could take up to a decade. Erickson didn’t seem intimidated by the prospect, repeatedly saying that this case took “a long time to come.”

“The staff tried to break me physically and psychologically,” Erickson alleged. “Despite their best efforts, they did not succeed and that is why I am able to be here today.”

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