RCMP, others are investigating an alleged exorcism in Saskatchewan. bible camp for kids
WARNING: This story contains distressing details.
RCMP and other agencies are investigating after an exorcism and other activities allegedly took place at a children’s Bible camp near Saskatoon.
In addition to the alleged exorcism performed earlier this summer, it’s unclear how the man in question was allowed to work with children at Redberry Bible Camp, located 70 kilometers north of Saskatoon. On the man’s own Facebook page, he details a long and recent history of pornography and drug addiction, domestic violence and being fired from his former job as a camp counselor.
« It’s just crazy. Absolutely stunning, » said Ailsa Watkinson, professor emeritus of social work at the University of Regina with a specialty in child protection. « If it was my child, I would be horrified. »
RCMP have confirmed that an investigation is ongoing into « two incident reports involving a Redberry Bible Camp staff member and a pre-teen on the evening of July 13, 2022. » The RCMP invites anyone with more information to contact their local detachment or call 310-RCMP.
Redberry Bible Camp board chairman Wayne Dick said they are looking into the incident. Dick told CBC News the staff member in question was no longer on site with the more than 100 children who attended the camp each week in August, but released a few other details.
« I’ll tell you, we’re investigating the situation…I’m not ready to discuss it at this point, » Dick said in a phone interview earlier this month. « I can assure you [the worker] is not at the camp. »
CBC News was unable to reach the worker through social media, family and other contacts.
A government official, who reviewed a report on the complaints received, agreed to an interview with CBC News. They spoke on the condition that their names not be published, as they are not authorized to speak about the case.
The July incident allegedly took place in one of the camp’s cabins, the official said, where two witnesses reported a child in medical distress lying on the floor, bleeding from the nose, making sounds and twitching .
The boy’s exact age is not known, but Redberry’s website says he was running a « Junior Teen Camp » for children aged 12 to 14 at the time.
Some children went for help and returned with the staff member, according to the report.
According to the government source, the complainants reported that the man decided to perform an exorcism on the child in front of the other children.
It’s unclear how long the ceremony lasted, but at the end the plaintiffs say the man told the children he had gotten rid of the demon that had possessed the child. He then gave his business card to each of the children, the source said.
He told the children that they should stay in contact with him for the rest of their lives, as only he knew how to ward off the demon they had all encountered, according to the report.
Some of the children were so terrified they called their parents, the official said. Even though the six-day camp was half over, the parents took their children home that night and the next morning. The RCMP and other agencies have been notified.
CBC News asked Redberry board chairman Wayne Dick if other staff members were involved, how the man was hired, if medical treatment was provided for the child and if the exorcisms were accepted practice at Redberry, but he did not respond directly.
Dick said he had some of that information, « but I can’t give it to you right now. »
Redberry is operated by the conservative evangelical Saskatchewan Mennonite Brethren and has been around since 1943. Partners listed on its website include other Christian groups and the Saskatchewan Camps Association, which provides accreditation.
Lise Milne, professor of social work at the University of Regina and chair of child and youth health and well-being, called the story « very upsetting ».
“Parents would reasonably expect that by sending their child to camp they would be in a safe environment and treated in a way that does not threaten their physical or emotional health and well-being,” Milne said.
She commended the Complainants for speaking up. Milne said that doesn’t always happen.
She said handing out business cards to minors in your care was completely inappropriate and that there should be extensive background checks, « particularly in relation to previous positions in the camp ». This now typically includes a review of the applicant’s social media, « which in this case would have revealed a very concerning story ».
It’s unclear whether online or social media research is being conducted on potential Redberry staff, but the staff member in question is sharing his life story in a pinned post to the top of his own public Facebook page.
The man said he was exposed to pornography and sexual trauma when he was eight years old at a friend’s house.
“Pornography was my first drug, and from age nine I had no idea I would be addicted for 12 years,” he wrote.
He said his high school years were filled with drug and sex addiction, jealousy and rage.
« My family was afraid of me, I had ‘friends’ who were afraid of me and I had victims at school who were afraid of me, I felt like I had become a monster, someone ‘one that I sometimes couldn’t recognize,’ he said. wrote.
He said his drug use worsened after being diagnosed with cancer, and he admits to « regularly abusing my girlfriend at the time with venomous death words ». One evening, following a « drunken cocaine party », he went to his girlfriend’s house, he wrote.
« In my drunken rage I sabotaged everything, I physically abused my girlfriend, screaming so loud it woke up the neighborhood, my girlfriend ran away from home, knocking on the doors of everyone who were listening and then I got to know my parents and the police came, » he wrote.
He initially denied assaulting her, but was fired from his job as a camp counselor when his girlfriend showed up there with visible bruises and other injuries, according to the post.
It is not known whether he has been charged or convicted. A Saskatoon Police Department official said he was not disclosing a criminal record. The official said the police will carry out criminal record checks for employers or people wishing to work with children, but « will not take a position on the suitability of the candidate and offer no comment or opinion. It is to the sole discretion of the employer as to whether or not the candidate can be considered for the position. »
The man wrote that at some point after this incident, he traveled to Mazatlan, Mexico for a six-month « discipleship training school. » He said it helped, but his time there « came to an abrupt end » when he « stumbled sexually, » he wrote.
This led to more drug use and depression, as recently as the spring of 2020, he wrote. When COVID-19 hit, he was forced to reexamine his life and renew his relationship with Jesus, he wrote.
He said in another Facebook post last year that his broken foot was supposed to take nine months to heal, but was better in just 24 hours. He attached photos of a cast foot and an x-ray.
« Just a beautiful reminder that Jesus heals!! » he wrote.
He continued to post religious monologues from an unknown location on his Facebook page until his account was deactivated last week. The videos, but not his biography, remain on YouTube.
« God saved me from a life of debauchery. God saved me from a life of wickedness, » he said in a 57-minute video posted in May, which garnered less than 150 views in three months.
It’s unclear when the RCMP, other agencies, or Redberry officials will release more information or conclude their investigation.