Saskatoon police charge man with sexual assault, sexual exploitation in historical sexual assault

A former athletics director at a Christian school in Saskatoon has been charged with sexual assault and sexual exploitation of a minor after an investigation into allegations of historical sexual assaults at the former Christian Centre Academy.

In a media release, Saskatoon police said the man turned himself in on Jan. 31 and was arrested, processed and released on conditions. Police did not release his name.

The StarPhoenix has confirmed that the man charged is Aaron Benneweis, an Edmonton resident. He previously coached at the school, now known as Legacy Christian Academy.

Police began the investigation after receiving a report alleging sexual assault between 2008 and 2012 involving a minor by an adult who was known to them through their affiliation with the institution.

Benneweis was one of the 24 named defendants, including former teachers and administrators, in a lawsuit filed by several former students of the Christian school.

The $25-million suit alleges Legacy Christian Academy, formerly known as Christian Centre Academy, and Mile Two Church perpetrated and allowed the spanking of students, fondling of minors by church staff and other physical, psychological and sexual abuse. The allegations have not been tested in court.

Former students came forward last summer with allegations dating back to the 1980s and at least 40 people have filed criminal complaints to Saskatoon city police. The Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth has also launched an investigation.

Legacy Christian Academy is a qualified independent school owned and operated by a non-profit organization and receives direct provincial funding. In 2020-21 it received $736,000 in provincial funds.

There have been repeated calls to revoke the school’s licence or freeze its funding, and former students met with Education Minister Dustin Duncan to make this request directly.

The ministry appointed administrators in late August to oversee Legacy Christian Academy, Grace Christian School in Saskatoon and Regent Christian Academy in Prince Albert.

The ministry also said the registered teachers named in the lawsuit would not be in the classroom.

Police said the accused man made arrangements through his legal counsel to turn himself in at Saskatoon police headquarters.

Police told the StarPhoenix his conditions include having no contact with the victim and not seeking, obtaining or continuing any employment volunteer position in any capacity that involves people under the age of 16.

Benneweis is expected to appear in Saskatoon provincial court on March 13.

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