Warning: This story contains disturbing details.
A former coach at a private Christian school in Saskatoon has been charged with sexual assault and sexual exploitation of a minor.
Aaron Benneweis, 46, worked at Christian Centre Academy, now known as Legacy Christian Academy. Police did not name Benneweis in their news release about the charges, but CBC News has verified his identity.
Police say they received a report in August 2022 that included allegations of sexual assault occurring between 2008 and 2012. They say the victim, a minor at the time, and the accused were known to one another through their affiliation with "a Saskatoon faith-based institution."
Police say the accused, who resides in Edmonton, turned himself in to the Saskatoon Police Service on Jan. 31, 2023. He was arrested, processed and released on conditions.
Benneweis is expected to appear in Saskatoon Provincial Court on March 13, 2023, at 2 p.m. CST.
Benneweis has also been named as a defendant in a proposed class-action lawsuit — filed before he was criminally charged — against former members of the school and adjacent church.
The lawsuit was launched against Legacy Christian Academy and the connected Mile Two Church last summer, after a CBC News investigation revealed 18 former students from the same academy had filed criminal complaints to police.
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 and the class action is still awaiting certification.
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.