26 Sep 2007

Anglican bishop reviewing allegations of cult practices and abuse at Grenville Christian College

No GCC complaints yet OPP Police reviewing online allegations

September 25, 2007 edition of the Brockville Recorder & Times

By KIM LUNMAN Staff Writer


An Anglican bishop reviewing allegations of cult practices and abuse at Grenville Christian College has been advising former students who believe they were the victims of criminal acts to file formal complaints with police, said a senior official for the diocese.

It's the latest twist in the unfolding drama involving the now-defunct Christian college mired in scandal since it suddenly shut its doors in August.

"On a couple of occasions when Bishop (George) Bruce heard their stories, he said that if they felt their experience violated the criminal code of Canada, he suggested they go to the OPP," said Wayne Varley, diocesan executive officer with the Anglican Diocese of Ontario.

Meanwhile, the Ontario Provincial Police confirmed they are reviewing allegations against the school made in the media and on Internet chatrooms.

"We're reviewing what has been reported on in the media," said OPP spokesman Sgt. Kristine Rae. However, she said there is no formal police investigation to date because there have been no official complaints filed with the authorities.

Varley would not say how many students and teachers Bishop Bruce has met with during his inquiry or reveal the nature of their allegations.

However, he emphasized in a telephone interview from the diocese's Kingston offices the bishop is not influencing any of the former students to file criminal complaints to the police.

"He left it totally up to the students," Varley said, noting the bishop's inquiry is focused on canon law.

"We continue to honour the process of inquiry."

Bishop Bruce has been receiving written and oral complaints from former students and teachers over the past two weeks alleging cult practices, physical, and psychological abuse.

The inquiry should be completed on Oct.1.

It has been reported that the complaints revolve around two Anglican priests connected with the school but Varley has refused to identify them or release specific details about the allegations against the clergy.

Former students at the school have alleged in the media bizarre disciplinary practices at the school, including physical and psychological abuse. Some have claimed there were so-called "light sessions" in which staff members hauled them out of bed at night to shine bright lights in their eyes and call them sinners.

The church is following the procedure laid out under canon 35 that covers complaints and discipline. Under canon 35, Bruce will meet with the complainants and then must inform anyone against whom those complaints have been lodged of the allegations and allow them a response. If there is a finding of misconduct, penalties range from a reprimand to suspension to removal from office.

School officials blamed its closure last month on dwindling enrollment, saying it was so cash-strapped that it could not have remained open for another year.



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