Grenville Christian College – the investigation widens – OPP

Since the announcement Grenville Christian College was closing and former students who have been sharing their stories of abuse have come forward a lot more has happened.

Former students have been talking on a forum for over a year at factnet.

Once Michael Valby of The Globe and Mail broke the initial story of Grenville Christian College (a private school in Brockville Ontario bought by a US Anglican cult in the early 1970′s) just over three weeks ago, initial reactions of what occurred to students were understandably mixed in the media and online.

Coverage starts here, and includes local and national articles, as well as a history of the school and The Community of Jesus.

At first Canadian Anglican powers that be denied jurisdiction, knowledge and responsibility and the current board met before meeting with media. Apologies were issued by the board and by Canadian Archbishop Fred Hiltz.

Once former students filed official complaints with Bishop George Bruce of the diocese, he began a formal investigation and has met with about 20 former students.

Although complaints were known years ago, Brockville Police, The Canadian Anglican Church and The Massachusetts Department of Children’s Services did not laid charges. for various reasons including substaition, jurististion etc. (The US cult was located in the state, some of the students at Grenville came from that area. The rest of the private school students were Canadian and international)

The Cape Cod Times ties in complaints to The Canadian Anglican Church with the Massachusetts cult: Community of Jesus leader implicated in 1990′s abuse probe.

The local leader of the Community of Jesus is named in a complaint of alleged abuse at a Canadian Christian prep school in the 1990s. The allegation is under investigation by the Bishop of Ontario in the Anglican Church of Canada.

Elizabeth Pugsley, (aka Elizabeth Patterson, director of the Gloria Dei Cantores choir) prioress of the Community of Jesus at Rock Harbor at least since 1993, was implicated in the alleged abuse at Grenville Christian College, according to the complaint filed by Rosalyn Price English, a former student and staff member at the Brockville, Ontario, school.

The connection between the school and the cult is laid out.

The Community of Jesus was founded in 1968 by Cay Andersen and Judy Sorensen, who met as prayer partners at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Orleans. They later traveled across the country, visiting Protestant churches and attracting followers to live or visit their Rock Harbor headquarters, according to a 1981 Times series.

In 1973, Sorensen, Andersen and other Community of Jesus members traveled to Grenville Christian College, a K-12 prep school, to train school staff and administration. After that, the two founders were frequent visitors. In 1981, as many as 60 of 65 Grenville staffers were Community of Jesus members, many of whom regularly came to the Cape church for retreats. From 1988 to 1993, roughly a dozen Community of Jesus members’ children attended Grenville. Community of Jesus lawyer Jeff Robbins has said church members’ children attended the school through 1996.

A class action lawsuit is being looked at.
The OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) have been monitoring media coverage, blogs, the former student forum and may now become involved.

Officers from the Grenville County crime unit are examining what has been posted on websites and published and broadcast in the news media, as well as talking to people with knowledge of what went on in the school, located outside Brockville.

OPP spokeswoman Sergeant Kristine Rae said there is no formal criminal investigation because to date, she said, the OPP have not received complaints.

“No one has come to us. But we are reviewing the information that’s out there. We need to know what’s out there.”

Two former students, who asked not to be identified, have said they will file complaints with the OPP next week.

One of them said he had been advised by Bishop George Bruce of the Anglican diocese in which the school is located, that he might want to talk to the police.

The Canadian Anglican Inquiry is expected to be completed by the end of the month.

Four responses are occurring to the allegations.

a) after denials by the board and Anglican officials the diocese Bishop launched an investigation
a) The OPP will receive official complaints from former students this week,
b) information for a class action suit is being gathered
c) depending on the finding of the inquiry by Bishop Bruce an ecclesiastical court may take place.

The judicial procedure almost never used in the Anglican Church of Canada would be triggered by Rev. Charles Farnsworth’s refusal to accept either a finding by the bishop that the allegations are substantive or a sentence of punishment that the bishop might impose.

It has been used perhaps half a dozen times over the past 170 years.

71 year old Father Charles Farnsworth who was headmaster at Grenville Christian College during much of the time period, was formally notified by Bishop Bruce the inquiry was under way.

Bishop Bruce recently ordered Mr. Farnsworth to stop going door to door in Brockville handing out cards asking for people’s prayers. This week, the bishop began receiving allegations of sexual misconduct by the now-retired priest, and he is looking into complaints of abuse perpetrated by lay staff members that may have been done with Mr. Farnsworth’s knowledge or approval.

Because Charles Farnsworth talked to the local paper (Brockville Recorder & Times) and it is not archived online, I put up the full article containing his remarks in the comment section here.

The class action suit has been suggested by a former student of GCC. The former student, now a lawyer; says three law firms are looking into the situation.

I am a former student of GCC. I am now a lawyer in the Toronto area. I am thinking of having my office starting a class action lawsuit with respect to all the allegations of abuse and the psychological damage it has caused to many people. I guess there is no one better than a former student.

I need to know how many possible people would consider joining a class action if commenced.

Please email me privately at mattlalande (at) gmail (dot) com

A personal note: Once abuse allegations surface, particularly in group settings it is important former students and their parents have the information they need.
Former students are the priority, if they suffered abuse and are ready to come forward, the process should not be arduous.
Some may need counselling.
Some may need to file a official complaint with the Bishop of the diocese.
Some may need to contact the lawyers collecting information.
Every individual needs to make their own choice.

While many of Grenville Christian College students did not experience abuse, this is my personal stand.
Abuse is abuse, it is not to be negated or dismissed. Abuse was not acceptable then and is not acceptable now. Excuses and rationalizations and denial do not wipe out abuse.
Time does not erase the effects of abuse on those who have been harmed nor those that abused. Moving past being a victim is a unique experience at set of choices for every individual.
Abuse is not to be rated or graded by laypeople, that is the responsibility of a therapist. Church and police officals can also assist by fulfilling their responsibilities with their expertise and experience.
Personal safety and healing comes first, once that occurs justice looks different for different people.
Abuse is never the fault of the abused; abuse is about power, and students are not in a power relationship with teachers and priests running a private school.

Important information for Grenville Christian College students and parents:
It has been heartbreaking and touching to see former Grenville students and parents find this blog.
There are also former teachers talking, now that the school is closed, healing is possible.
If the school was a part of your past and you want to step forward – get informed; make careful and clear decisions about how to proceed so you are not harmed further by people on the fringe willing to take advantage.
The forum was started as a place to provide support and hope. Every person you went to high school with is different, experiences, opinions and information is shared and forum support may be useful for some.
To assist those of you sorting this out and just finding public information, most local and media stories have been collected in posts here at Bene Diction Blogs On.
The posts are categorized under Grenville Christian College, and all are accessible by typing in Grenville Christiain College in the search engine on the right.

Speaking up:

a) Filing a formal complaint with the Anglican Canadian diocese is done in writing.
b) An email is sufficient (keep hard copies)
c) Tell Bishop Bruce you are stepping forward with a formal accusation and explain your time at the school
d) Ask The Anglican Church to help you find a qualified therapist in your area if you are want to take that step and aren’t sure where to look.

Bishop George Bruce, of the Anglican Church’s Diocese of Ontario.
Office Phone: (613) 544-4774 x29
Office Phone 2: (866) 524-4774 x29 (Toll Free)
Office Fax: (613) 547-3745
Office Address:
90 Johnson Street
Kingston, ON
K7L 1X7

Class Action: If you wish to participate in a possible class action suit the contact email is above. There is a law information website relating to Grenville CC.

OPP: If you chose to file a police complaint you can contact the Grenville County Ontario Provincial police at:
200 Development Drive, Prescott, ON
K0E 1T0
fax 925-1115
An email form for the eastern division of the OPP is here.

Update: Globe and Mail: October 1, 2007 Emotional headmaster apologizes to Grenville alumni The money raised at the dinner will go to help former staff.
The Anglican Journal: October 1, 2007 Diocese investigates abuse claims

About Bene Diction

Have courage for the great sorrows, And patience for the small ones. And when you have laboriously accomplished your tasks, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.
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5 Responses to Grenville Christian College – the investigation widens – OPP

  1. Dale Jeffrey says:

    I was a student at the College when it was called Berean Christian School, and while Chuck Farnsworth, Headmaster Doctor, Dan Bandeshevski, and many others under the oversight of Al and Mary Haig regularly administered horrendous corporal punishment and psychological/spiritual abuse to students there, including myself and my friends. I was even forcibly “exorcised” to remove what they regarded (God told them) as a demon of lust. Though it was not “Grenville” then, and was not formally Anglican, does that mean that my story or experience would not apply? I would really like to hear from someone, and any other “Berean” survivors. Nearly 40 years later and I still have the nightmare. Amazingly, I have since become an Anglican priest, living in Saskatoon.

  2. TMW says:

    I would encourage you to read the site. The posters on that site are not only GCC students, but also former Community of Jesus members. There are some which speak of the Berean days on that site.

  3. Tim Blacklock says:

    Thank you so much every one who shares their stories. I have been plagued my whole life since I left GCC. I understand the memories of abuse and corporal punishment and my parents now finally realize what a nightmare I had to endure under Farnsworths disapline tactics. I was at odds for many years with my parents for their decision to send me to GCC and it has been difficult to explain the suffering I had to endure. When its your word against a Reverands its almost immposible to be heard, when its hundreds and possibly thousands of wounded souls its impossible not to be heard. Thank you to all of the staff that has come forward to cleanse their souls and let the truth be known. Thank you to Bishop Bruce for running a class act and looking into all of the alligations with a serious intent to find truth. Thank you to all the lawyers and police for working hard to find the truth. For the first time in 31 years I feel like I might be able to finally move on and get the healing I am desperatly looking for. Please keep shareing.

  4. Bene Diction says:

    Tim, I’m glad to hear you have found peace and healing.

    Great credit goes to Grenville students who had the courage to speak up a year before Michael Valby of The Globe and Mail carried the story. He too deserves credit for bringing the abuse into the light. As does the Bishop for moving swiftly and learning from prior residential abuse handling by his church and the police for investigating.

  5. Greetings;

    Though I didn’t go to Grenville, I was sent to a school for blind children, hundreds of miles from my home and all I loved. I’ve written a book on my experiences but I’m afraid the school bully might try to sue. Where can I find reliable information on my options in the event that I’m threatened with a lawsuit? I’ve been very careful not to libel anybody and I’ve changed some names. Even so, the school bully might bluff and claim he can win against me. Where can I find advice on my options and what the bully would have to do in the event he sues me?

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