A former student's plea to Anglican authorities to "intervene" in the alleged conduct of a priest who ran a private religious school accused of cult practices has been rejected by the priest's bishop as not properly constituting a formal complaint against him.
The ex-student of Grenville Christian College near Brockville, Ont., sent Bishop George Bruce an e-mail with a link to a website where onetime staff and students have been pouring out stories alleging physical, psychological and sexual abuse over a 20-year period.
Jennifer Reid, of Peterborough, Ont., began her e-mail to Bishop Bruce: "Please intervene."
In another e-mail to the church's national office headed "Formal complaint, Abuses at Anglican School," Ms. Reid gives more details and asks that her letter be forwarded to "the appropriate person" - who would be Bishop Bruce, head of the Eastern Ontario diocese in which Grenville is located.
Bishop Bruce said he has discussed Ms. Reid's e-mails with his diocesan chancellor, Peter Swan, "and it is his view that they do not constitute a formal complaint of misconduct against ... Rev. [Charles]Farnsworth." He also said he offered Ms. Reid further discussion.
Mr. Farnsworth was headmaster from the late 1970s to 1997. In July, the school announced it was closing, citing falling enrolment and rising operating costs.
Bishop Bruce earlier issued a statement saying: "The incorporated synod [governing body]of the Diocese of Ontario has at no time had any contractual or de facto responsibility or control over the operations of Grenville Christian College.
"Grenville Christian College is operated by its own board of directors as a non-profit charitable benevolent religious corporation.
"The diocese has occasionally, at the invitation of the college leadership, provided clergy (including bishops) to officiate at regular services of worship."
The school flew the Anglican flag, had three headmasters who were Anglican priests and had students confirmed in the church and buildings dedicated by Anglican bishops.
One former diocesan bishop was described in his obituary as having "close ties" with the school and being "episcopal visitor" to the Community of Jesus in Massachusetts, a charismatic group linked to Grenville and described in the U.S. media as a cult.
A second former bishop sat on the school's board of directors and a third, Bishop Peter Mason, says he was asked to advise some staff in 2001 on issues of psychological trauma in the religious community that ran the school and its "spiritually misguided experiences of the last 20 years" - as one former staff member wrote to him in an e-mail.
But he said in an interview that at no time was he aware students were abused.