Former students who attended a Christian school in Saskatchewan, Canada have alleged widespread abuse, including at least one violent anti-gay “exorcism.” After a 12-month investigation, Canadian police turned their findings over to Crown prosecutors in April to consider possible charges.
The 18 students, many of whom attended the Christian Centre Academy in Saskatoon between 1995 and 2010, filed criminal abuse complaints alleging frequent paddlings, coercion, traumatizing rituals, and solitary confinement, according to CBC News. Corporal punishment was outlawed by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2004.
One former student, Coy Nolin, describes a particularly disturbing “exorcism” mean to cast out “gay demons.” Nolin claims he was suspended from the Christian Centre Academy in May 2004 after the school’s director was informed that he was gay. According to Nolin, the director had interrogated the then-16-year-old for several hours calling him “evil” and “an abomination.”
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Days later, four school and Saskatoon Christian Centre church officials visited the Nolin home and performed an abusive ritual with Nolin’s mother Carilyn present. They put their hands on the student, yelling, grunting, and speaking in tongues.
Nolin says the school’s director also beat him with a large wooden paddle leaving him bruised and limping.
“This was abuse,” Nolin says. “This was a hate crime.”
In the statement, officials from the school, which has since been renamed Legacy Christian Academy, claim the homophobia Nolin and others allege does not exist at the school today.
“Our position on LGBTQ issues is that all students are welcome in our school, and we strive to provide a safe place for every student to grow and learn who God created them to be… we are committed to creating an environment where everyone is valued and treated with dignity, love, and respect. Therefore, we would never discipline students for their sexual orientation or gender identity,” the school said.
Nolin and other former students claim that many of the same administrators who were present when they attended Christian Centre Academy continue to work at Legacy Christian Academy today.
It could reportedly take until April 2023 for Crown prosecutors to bring charges against the school. In the meantime, the former students want Saskatchewan’s provincial government to investigate Legacy Christian Academy, freezing any funding and cancelling any tax breaks it receives.