24 Nov 2008

No criminal charges will be laid in Anglican school abuse case

Brockville Recorder & Times - Canada

No charges in GCC abuse allegation

by Kim Lunman | Recorder & Times Staff Writer

There will be no criminal charges laid after a 14-month investigation into allegations of abuse at Grenville Christian College, Ontario Provincial Police announced on Friday.
The allegations of physical assault and mistreatment at the school by former students between the mid-1970s and mid-1990s were made after the private boarding school east of Brockville abruptly shut its doors in August 2007.
The Grenville County detachment of the OPP in Prescott opened an investigation into allegations against former staff of the Christian school on Sept. 10, 2007.
The OPP issued a brief press release Friday afternoon, announcing its investigation into the "historical abuse allegations" was concluded.
"The OPP, in consultation with the Crown attorney, have decided not to lay any criminal charges in relation to the extensive investigation," said the written statement. "All complainants have been notified."
"It wasn't in the interest of the public to lay any charges," said OPP Sgt. Kristine Rae in an interview. "When you're looking at historical allegations, you're looking at the whole picture."
Rae said there were "23 potential victims interviewed" during the lengthy investigation.
"There were other people that came forward with information," she said.
Andrew Hale-Byrne, a British civil servant who graduated from the school in 1990s and is a litigant in a class-action lawsuit against Grenville Christian College, said in an interview from the United Kingdom on Friday that he is shocked and disappointed no charges were laid.
"I am concerned to hear that the Crown and the OPP do not feel it is in the public interest to proceed with criminal charges. Perhaps it is in the interest of those devastated abuse victims to proceed. Just because the alleged behaviour is alleged to have taken place many years ago that is no excuse not to press charges."
The closure of Grenville Christian College and allegations of abuse by former students also sparked two class-action lawsuits amid a flurry of accusations in the national media and on the Internet.
The school as well as some former staff members are named as defendants in the civil suits. The allegations between the mid-1970s and mid-1990s claimed physical and sexual abuse at the former private boarding school and alleged bizarre cult-like behaviour that has left the pupils traumatized.
The claims allege students were subject to public humiliations and light sessions, in which pupils were dragged out of bed at night by staff shining flashlights in their face and denouncing them as sinners.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Meanwhile, there are still questions swirling around the future of the stately school overlooking the St. Lawrence River. In September, it emerged at an Augusta Township council meeting that developer are proposing to buy the property and build a residential development on the sprawling 264-acre campus.

For previous articles related to this story see the labels "Anglican" or "education"

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