Former coach at private Christian school in Saskatoon pleads guilty to sexual assault, sexual exploitation

Warning: This story contains disturbing details.

Aaron Benneweis, a former coach at the Christian Centre Academy in Saskatoon — now called Legacy Christian Academy — has admitted he sexually assaulted a teen student at the private Christian school.

Benneweis pleaded guilty Thursday in Saskatoon provincial court to sexual assault and sexual exploitation. He is scheduled to return to court for sentencing Jan. 4, 2024.

The offences took place from 2008 to 2012. Jennifer Beaudry, the victim, was 13 when they began.

Victims of sexual assault usually can’t be named due to a publication ban, but Beaudry went to court for permission to have her name published so she could tell her story.

Beaudry was in court Thursday for the guilty pleas.

“He spent a long time denying facts,” she said outside the building afterward. “So to see him have to step up to the plate and face his demons and say, yes, I am guilty of this felt really, really good.

“I know that there’s a lot of people in my shoes that don’t get this opportunity.”

Benneweis’s lawyer said the sentencing will be contested.

A woman wearing a tuque and parka stands outside during wintertime and gazes beyond the camera.
Jennifer Beaudry says the time has come for accountability. (Kendall Latimer/CBC)

Benneweis is one of three former officials at the school charged recently. He is the first to have the charges resolved in court.

John Olubobkun, a former director and principal at the school, faces 12 counts of assault with a weapon. Duff Friesen, another former principal, faces 11 counts of assault with a weapon. Both are scheduled to be in court Oct. 12.

Beaudry said she took some satisfaction from hearing Benneweis on the phone, but is really anticipating his January sentencing hearing.

“I didn’t get to see him and I’m excited to see him face to face in court,” she said.

Meanwhile, a civil suit is also before the courts.

Former students of the Christian Centre Academy are seeking $25 million in compensation, as well as other unspecified damages. They also want an immediate and permanent closure of the school, and to permanently prohibit all of the defendants from working in schools with minors.

Nearly two dozen officials are named, and the document states others not yet named are also implicated. All were staff, volunteers, leaders or “elders” with the former Saskatoon Christian Centre Church and the Christian Centre Academy school, now known as Mile Two Church and Legacy Christian Academy.

None of the allegations made in the proposed class action lawsuit have been proven in court. 

Support is available for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. You can access crisis lines and local support services through this Government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. ​​If you’re in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911. 

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