Home of woman at heart of private Christian school lawsuit vandalized, burglarized and burned

A scripture reference spray-painted on the side of Caitlin Erickson's garage. (Caitlin Erickson - image credit)
A scripture reference spray-painted on the side of Caitlin Erickson's garage. (Caitlin Erickson - image credit)

Warning: This story contains a reference to alleged sexual abuse.

Caitlin Erickson says she didn't have to look up the scriptural passage referenced in spray paint on the side of her rural garage — Hebrews 12 — to be alarmed.

That chapter contains the line, "Our God is a consuming fire."

She knew it because someone had sent her a threatening text referencing the same New Testament chapter in August when she became one of the public faces in a class action lawsuit against a private Christian school in Saskatoon.

"I think it's scary when people weaponize scripture," Erickson said Tuesday.

It has been a trying half-year for Erickson since she stood on the steps of Court of King's Bench in Saskatoon to speak about a class action suit that alleges former students of the Saskatoon Christian Centre Church and the Christian Centre Academy school, now known as Mile Two Church and Legacy Christian Academy, were subjected to physical, emotional and sexual abuse.

Erickson is one of the named plaintiffs in the suit, and expected to draw criticism.

On Aug. 21, she received a message that stated, "It would be advisable for you to stop talking to the press if you value your life. Hebrews 12:20."

The citation refers to the verse, "If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death."

CBC
CBC

The more recent message was painted on Nov. 10. That same day, someone ripped down the security cameras over her front door and on her eaves. This combination prompted Erickson to load up her kids and head back to Saskatoon.

The next day, she returned with her 15-year-old nephew to feed her dogs and came across an intruder in her home.

"We ran out of the house. We didn't physically see the person, but we heard the person and ran upstairs and out of the house," she said.

She reported the burglary to RCMP. Hours later, officers called her back.

"They got hold of me just before midnight and said there had been an emergency, so this was a few hours later," she said.

"He just said, 'I don't know how to tell you this. There's been a fire at your house.' And I said 'no, I think you have the wrong person. I called about the break and enter.' And he was like, 'No, is this your address? You have two dogs.'"

Erickson's dogs, Yoshi and Georgia, escaped through a dog door in the garage, but the family's hamster, gecko and snake died. The basement was heavily damage by fire, water and smoke, and the rest of the house was heavily damaged by smoke.

RCMP confirm there was a fire and that the case is now in the hands of fire investigators with the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency.

WATCH | Saskatchewan RCMP investigating fire at home of former private Christian school student

The sequence of events also alarmed Grant Scharfstein, one of two lawyers who initiated the class action suit against the church and school.

"I was sickened by it when I heard what had happened," he said.

"We don't know who did it. I don't think it's coincidence, but who knows? Ultimately an investigation will be completed. Hopefully they'll find who did it. I also hope and expect that the legacy Christian Academy and Mile Two Church will come out very strongly when they hear about this and condemn it in the strongest of terms, if in any event it was a member of their church."

Erickson said she has also been confronted publicly by people identifying themselves as members of Mile Two Church. She also had a note left on her deck.

Still, she doesn't regret coming forward.

"I'm gonna take more safety measures and, you know, things will be done a little bit differently going forward, but it's not going to stop the process that's going forward," she said.

"If that's what their intention was, was to scare me into silence, that's not happening."

Support is available for anyone who has been sexually abused. 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.