Legacy Christian Academy considering closing its doors at end of June in wake of abuse allegations

Legacy Christian Academy, formerly known as Christian Centre Academy, could be closing its doors. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC - image credit)
Legacy Christian Academy, formerly known as Christian Centre Academy, could be closing its doors. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC - image credit)

A controversial Christian school in Saskatoon may close its doors at the end of June in the wake of abuse allegations and ongoing criminal court cases, according to a letter obtained by CBC News.

The letter is circulating among senior officials at Legacy Christian Academy. It indicates that the school could close its doors June 30.

"Because of the ongoing allegations against Christian Centre Academy, our earlier rendition, and even against LCA as it is today, it has become more difficult to maintain the student enrolment levels that we believe are necessary for operating with excellence," wrote Marguerite Wiggins, a senior teacher and advisory consultant at the school.

"We are, of course, aware of Westdale Christian School's plans to reopen this fall and to do so by renting our current space. The hope is our families will transfer to Westdale without having to continue under the cloud of allegations that is the current situation."

The letter is addressed to a senior official in the province's Ministry of Education.

CBC provided the ministry with a copy of the letter. A spokesperson said the ministry is aware that Westdale Christian School is interested in relocating to the Legacy Christian Academy building.

"Should this occur, all conditions currently in place for Legacy Christian Academy would remain in place at Westdale Christian School," Mitchell Blair wrote in an email.

"The Ministry of Education has not received the specific letter you provided and, to date, has not received notification of the closure of Legacy Christian Academy."

Christine Gamache, the principal at Legacy Christian Academy, wrote "to my knowledge, no such letter was sent to the Ministry of Education."

Legacy Christian Academy, located at 102 Pinehouse Drive and formerly named Christian Centre Academy, is embroiled in civil and criminal court proceedings.

Former students launched a class action lawsuit against Legacy Christian Academy and the connected Mile Two Church after a CBC News investigation revealed 18 former students from the same academy had filed criminal complaints against school staff members.

Those reports outline allegations of paddlings, coercion, traumatizing rituals and solitary confinement that students say they experienced during their time at the school. Dozens more complainants have come forward since the lawsuit was filed.

The allegations in the lawsuit have not been tested in court.

Four men affiliated with the school have been charged.

Aaron Benneweis pleaded guilty in October 2023 to sexually assaulting and exploiting a female student, beginning when she was 13 years old. The former coach was sentenced in February to two years less a day, to be followed by three years probation.

Three others are still before the courts, charged with assault with a weapon.

Caitlin Erickson
Caitlin Erickson

Caitlin Erickson (CBC)

Caitlin Erickson, a former student who is participating in the class action lawsuit, said she is skeptical about whether Legacy closing its doors and Westdale moving into the building would change anything.

It's not clear from the letter whether the school would re-open on Pinehouse under a new name.

"This will be rebrand number three that they're trying. And it's really just disappointing that after everything that's come forward that there's no self reflection just to say, hey, maybe we shouldn't be in the business of education," she said.

"I don't think anybody in Saskatoon is not paying attention to what's going on on the corner of 102 Pinehouse Drive. So they can slap whatever name they want on the building. Everybody knows what legacy that place has."