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What Happened Behind The Doors of Grenville Christian College?

By KJ Mullins     Sep 2, 2007 in World
The Brockville, On. located Grenville Christian College has closed their doors while allegations of sexual improprieties and cult practices emerge. The school accepted children as young as six opened in the 1900's under the name of St. Mary's School.
The building was built in 1902 by a Redemptorist order of the Catholic church. It was sold in 1969 to Berean Christian Schools. The name change came in the early 1970s as a ecumenical Christian school.
With the name change also came new buildings. The dining room, apartments for the staff, gym, track and a chapel were added during this time period. Rev. Charles Farnsworth and his wife Betty were in charge of the school.
It held claims that 98% of it's students who graduated went on to higher education. Those claims enabled the school to be able to have the $35,000 a year tuition.
When a former student had created a message board on an Internet site for cults students from the past 30 years started sharing their experiences with one another.
Andrew Hale-Byrne is one such student. Now a British civil servant he graduated from the religious school in the 1990s.
Mr. Hale-Byrne told of being summoned at night to the school chapel and being made to endure an experience that he described as an exorcism, a liturgy for casting out of demons. Mr. Hale-Byrne, who was 16 at the time, said yesterday he felt afraid and isolated.
“For 10, 12 years, I had recurring nightmares about Grenville.
“Our parents had no idea, and a lot of people always ask the question, ‘How did your parents not clue in to this?' From my perspective, being British, all I can say is that my parents were quite reserved, they were quite wealthy, they were very distant. I tried to tell them briefly about it, and they said, ‘Oh, you're just in a new culture; Canadians do things differently.' Also we weren't with our parents and they [at the school] knew that.”
Right Rev. Peter Mason is the retired bishop of the Anglican diocese of Ontario which includes the school. He had heard in the past about cult behaviours at the school but only in the context of the staff. He was not aware that students were being made part of it.
Other students have made other allegations.
Jay Thompson, who runs a community advertising website out of Toronto and graduated from Grenville in 1995, said girls were required to bend over in their dormitories in the morning to make sure their underpants couldn't be seen and had their drawers regularly rifled by teachers to ensure they wore only the most modest garments.
Girls who let their hair grow too long were summoned before staff and told they were Jezebels – the name for the biblical temptress who turned an ancient king of Israel away from God.
Jesse Noonan of Ottawa recalled in an interview being asked over and over again by a teacher for minute details on his sexual encounter with a girl.
Mr. Thompson said he was not allowed to graduate because he brought his girlfriend to the graduation ceremony.
A female student alleged in a message-board posting that insulting sexual comments were made to her by a teacher who also licked her neck.
Michael Phelan, of Binghamton, N.Y., the son of a former headmaster and a professional musician, said he was ordered by staff not to play the piano for long periods of time because it would make him “haughty.”
He said in an interview he continues to have regular nightmares about his time at the school.
The children were taught not to have pride by being told often that they were mediocre. Girls who had long hair were called Jezebels.
While some of the punishments seem commonplace in boarding school environments such dishes and cleaning bathrooms others are extreme. Cutting the lawn with scissors isn't unheard of but it is a harsh punishment. Girls having to bend over to prove that their underpants were unseen and having their drawers gone through to prove no immodest undergarments were there is a little much.
Mother Cay Andersen and Mother Judy Sorensen were invited to Grenville in 1973. They both lived there for several months “to show us God's prayerful way of doing things.”
Rebellious children were sent to the school for years afterwards.
Both it and the school believed children should be separated from their parents for considerable periods of time because parents were prone to “idolatrize” their offspring and not teach them discipline.
As of this time there has been no civil or criminal action taken against the school even if there is a lot of discussion about that possibility on the boards.
More about Grenville christian college, Toronto, Psychologically damaged