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'Ungodly': Court hears Sask. private school director paddled student for 'going goth'

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More former students of a private Christian school in Saskatoon testified about corporal punishment they received at the hands of the school’s director on Tuesday.

Former school director John Olubobokun is on trial for nine counts of assault with a weapon.

On the second day of his trial, one former student testified she was spanked with a wooden paddle for “going goth,” while another student said she was left with bruises for weeks for being “too expressive” on the volleyball court.

Former students went to the police in 2021 and 2022, alleging they were subject to physical abuse while attending Christian Centre Academy, now known as Legacy Christian Academy.

Olubobokun is one several people facing criminal charges following the revelation of allegations of physical, sexual and emotional abuse that came to light in 2022 when former students launched a $25 million class action lawsuit against the school, its affiliated Mile Two Church, and the provincial government.

Olubobokun is listed in the civil suit as the director of the school from 2003 to 2009, and a staff member of Mile Two Church from 1998 to 2009.

Caitlin Erickson has been an outspoken critic of the organization throughout the court proceedings. The 36-year-old took the stand Tuesday, tearing up at times as she shared stories of Olubobokun’s alleged abused.

She said on his first day at the school he went on a “tirade.”

“He threatened the whole school,” she testified.

“Basically, ‘if you step out of line I’m going to spank you.’”

Court heard Olubobokun encouraged students to report their fellow classmates for misbehaving.

“It was like eat or be eaten,” Erickson testified.

Erickson said she was sometimes sent to Olubobokun’s office for having an “attitude” and getting upset if a game wasn’t going well.

“We were forced to always be happy. We weren’t allowed to show any negative emotion,” she testified.

She said Olubobokun would make her bend over a chair and spank her with a wooden paddle the size of cricket racket, “extremely hard.”

“Every single time John Olubobokun hit me, I had a white welt on my ass,” she said.

She said the bruises lasted for weeks, and caused physical and psychological pain.

Court heard there was another allegation called the “group volleyball incident,” but Erickson did not testify to it because it is the subject of another trial, where Olubobokun is charged with four more counts of assault with a weapon.

Erickson then spoke about an incident in the spring of 2005 where she was paddled for talking about her friend’s sexual assault by one of the church staff.

Erickson said Olubobokun told her she was not allowed to talk about sexual assault in the church. When she was in Grade 12, court heard he spanked her so hard that she peed her pants.

Former student Jillian Kudryk, 33, testified she was sent to the office for “going Goth.” She explained her mother colored her hair, but it was darker than expected. She said her black hair prompted rumors that she was “Goth,” and Olubobokun paddled her for being “ungodly.”

She said when Olubobokun became the director students were punished more often.

“You would see someone go missing out of class all the time,” she testified.

Kudryk said Olubobokun also paddled her for being “obsessed” with the Christian pop band Jump 5, because she was focusing her attention on the group instead of God.

During cross-examination, Olubobokun’s defense lawyer Daniel Tangjerd asked the Crown’s witnesses why they didn’t tell their parents at the time.

Kudryk said while some parents knew of the discipline, they did not know the severity, and said some were “brain washed” into thinking the church was in charge of the home.

Tangjerd has repeatedly asked the crown’s witnesses why they decided to come forward with the allegations at this time.

Erickson said she went in police in 2021 after she heard Olubobokun was operating a new private school. She said she had no financial motive, noting she went to police a year before launching the class-action lawsuit.

The Crown is expecting to call its last witness on Tuesday. 

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