Saskatoon residents call for councilman’s resignation and other action following abuse allegations
Some Saskatoon residents are calling on longtime city councilor Randy Donauer to resign after allegations of physical and emotional abuse were made against him.
Two former students of Christian Center Academy and the adjacent Saskatoon Christian Center Church, now called Legacy Christian Academy and Mile Two Church, allege Donauer hit them with a large wooden paddle in a process of discipline known as paddling.
A former student says Donauer paddled them nearly a dozen times, sometimes with the student’s pants off.
Other students say a normally mild-mannered Donauer would suddenly become enraged and threaten children during Sunday school or other events.
Donauer declined interview requests, but denied any wrongdoing.
« If there are any rumors about me, I vehemently deny any wrongdoing, » he wrote in a statement to CBC News.
« If any legal claims against me are made, I will vigorously defend [against] their. »
Coy Nolin is one of the students who said he was physically assaulted by Donauer. In a statement to police, Nolin said the abuse took place in the summer of 2003, when he was 16 and working as a counselor at a Bible camp run by the Saskatoon Christian Center.
Nolin said he would file a formal complaint against Donauer in an attempt to have him removed from the board. Nolin is due to meet with his lawyer on Thursday to determine the best way to file a complaint.
« [I’m] do whatever I have to do to voice my opinion that I don’t agree with this person sitting on city council,” Nolin said in an interview.
Others have taken to social media to demand Donauer’s resignation.
@cityofsaskatoon @charlieclarkyxe To suspend @randydonauer. He must resign.
It’s not good. Nothing less supports this disgusting behavior. https://t.co/bfVxpwYUWR
Todd Cocks, a Saskatoon resident and computer programmer, wrote to city council asking that Donauer be removed from all boards and positions where he represents the city of Saskatoon.
“For someone to represent Saskatoon while these allegations are made public is abhorrent,” Cocks wrote in a letter.
« I think Mr. Donauer is entitled to due process but, in the meantime, I think he should be removed from his privileged position. »
Donauer currently sits on six city boards and committees.
CBC has asked all city councilors and the mayor to comment. Advisors did not respond in time.
Charlie Clark’s chief of staff wrote in an email that the mayor was unable to speak on behalf of the council without them being given the opportunity to discuss it, which has yet to happen .
Cocks, who is gay, says he is also concerned about Donauer’s religious views, noting that Donauer was the only councilor to vote against a bylaw last year banning conversion therapy in the community.
Donauer said at the time that he took issue with the definition of conversion therapy contained in the settlement.
He proposed an amendment that would have allowed consenting adults to seek therapy or counseling that could possibly help them change their « lifestyle » if they wanted to.
« I think it’s just a black eye for the city to have a councilman who obviously has some discomfort with part of society and who is now implicated in these allegations as well, » Cocks told CBC News. .
Nolin also challenges Donauer’s vote against banning conversion therapy.
« It holds a very special place in my heart, to be part of the LGBT community, » Nolin said.
Nolin said that when he was a teenager at the Legacy Christian Center, he had four church and school officials perform an exorcism at his home in an attempt to rid him of his « gay demon ».
Donauer did not respond to questions from CBC about the settlement and conversion therapy.
Allegations against Donauer ‘concerning’: Mayor
In a statement to CBC News, Mayor Clark said the allegations against Donauer were « worrying » and that he only heard about them on Tuesday when the story was published.
« I have tremendous respect for the strength of these students to come forward and tell their stories, » Clark said.
« As a community, we need to understand the impact of these experiences while recognizing that a formal criminal investigation is underway. »
Nolin and another student gave statements to the police regarding Donauer.
Grant Scharfstein, who is representing former Christian Center Academy students in a proposed class action lawsuit against more than 20 school and church officials, said allegations against Donauer add to dozens of felony assault claims filed with the Saskatoon police.
Donauer was not initially named as one of the defendants in the trial, but Scharfstein said the intention was to add him in the coming weeks.
In total, the police are investigating the criminal complaints of more than 40 students against various officials.
How Advisor Complaints Work
Saskatoon residents can file complaints about city councilors with the Provincial Ombudsman and the City’s Integrity Commissioner, although the code of ethics says the commissioner will advise people making criminal allegations to report to the police.
Angela Kruk, the Integrity Commissioner, must report to the Complainant and Advisor within 90 days of receiving the complaint. If she determines that the code of ethics has been violated, she must first present her findings to the Governance and Priorities Committee in an in camera meeting. Donauer currently serves on this committee.
If the complaint is dismissed, the commissioner will not have to report to the council except within the framework of an annual or periodic report, according to the code of ethics.
But if the complaint is not dismissed, the commissioner’s report will be sent to the entire municipal council. The report would include recommended sanctions or corrective actions, which may include a letter of reprimand to the advisor, suspension or removal of an advisor from committees, or requiring the advisor to attend training.