Private school faces new $200-million lawsuit

Ontario, Canada - A second lawsuit filed against Grenville Christian College and the Anglican Diocese of Ontario claims the now-closed private school was operated as a mind-control cult that left former students physically, mentally and sexually traumatized.

The suit paints a bizarre portrait of the school near Brockville, Ont., where students were told that illnesses and disabilities were the result of unconfessed sin and where a former headmaster, an Anglican priest, preached that AIDS and killer bees in Texas were evidence of the approaching end of the world.

The suit, filed by former students as a class action, asks for $200-million in damages and seeks a so-called Mareva injunction to block the sale of the school and its 107-hectare property overlooking the St. Lawrence River. An earlier class-action suit was filed in November. The Ontario Provincial Police are also conducting a criminal investigation into complaints of sexual and physical abuse. None of the allegations against the school, church or individuals have been proven in court.

The latest lawsuit details the close relationship over 30 years between the school and the Kingston-based Diocese of Ontario and alleges the school prospered because of its advertised connection with the diocese and the Anglican values it was supposedly promoting.

Instead, the school and its founding headmasters, both ordained priests of the diocese, fell under the influence of the Community of Jesus, a Massachusetts-based organization identified as a cult in the U.S. news media, the suit says.

The suit states that Anglican authorities knew or should have known that the school was deviating from Anglican doctrine and that the practices being followed would lead to students suffering sexual, physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual harm.

It describes students being subjected to exorcisms and exercises in self-loathing. Students were told that all women except those "tamed in marriage" or belonging to celibate religious orders are "sluts, whores, bitches in heat, jezebels and temptresses."

The suit - filed by the Toronto law firm of Torkin, Manes, Cohen & Arbus LLP - names as defendants the school, the Anglican diocese, Rev. Charles Farnsworth and his wife, Betty, and former headmaster Rev. Al Haig and his divorced wife, Mary, who lives at the Community of Jesus on Cape Cod.