Priests asked to give their side of Grenville Christian College story

The Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Ontario has invited former priests accused of wrongdoing at Grenville Christian College to face the allegations made against them in a church inquiry into the scandal at the now-closed private school.

Bishop George Bruce has met with an undisclosed number of former students and staff from the campus east of Brockville.

“We’re completing our paperwork,” Wayne Varley, diocesan executive officer with the Anglican Diocese of Ontario, said in an telephone interview from Kingston. “The bishop is inviting those who had complaints made against them to meet with him and he will give them time to respond.

“It is time to move to the next piece of this,” said Varley, adding: “The meetings are scheduled privately.”

Anglican officials maintain the local bishop has jurisdiction over Anglican priests at the school, but had no authority over how the school was run.

Varley would not disclose the names of the priests to be questioned by the bishop. He would not confirm reports in The Globe and Mail that the two at the centre of the inquiry are two former headmasters at Grenville Christian College – the most recent, Rev. Gorton Mintz, and Rev. Charles Farnsworth, headmaster for two decades until he retired in 1997. Neither man was present at a $50-a -plate reunion dinner this past weekend at the school for a closing celebration, alumni members said.

Varley also refused to say how many students and teachers the bishop met with during a month-long “canonical” inquiry into allegations of physical and psychological abuse that have erupted in the national media and on the Internet since the 38-year-old school suddenly closed this summer. The complaints date back to the 1970s.

Last week, the Ontario Provincial Police announced it had formally opened an investigation into allegations of “criminal wrongdoing” at the school.

Former students have alleged in the media strange disciplinary practices at the school, including physical and psychological abuse and bizarre-cult like practices. Some claimed they were subjected to 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. Others allege they were taken to the viewing window of a boiler and told they were going to the flames of hell.

The church is following the procedure laid out under canon 35 that covers complaints and discipline for Anglican clergy. 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 or removal from office.

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The Recorder & Times, Brockville, ON, Canada
Oct. 1, 2007
Kim Lunman

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This post was last updated: Feb. 29, 2016