A former teacher at a church-run school, who has been charged with sexual assault and sexual exploitation, had his first court appearance on Monday.
Aaron Benneweis used to be the athletic director for Legacy Christian Academy, then known as Christian Centre Academy, in Saskatoon.
It’s the school run by Mile Two Church, which dozens of former students are suing in a class action lawsuit for $25 million for alleged sexual and physical abuse.
Benneweis was named in the lawsuit and the complainant is one of the plaintiffs.
The sexual assault and exploitation charges stem from alleged incidents in the late 2000s that took place over several years.
The complainant told Global News she met Benneweis when he was her gym teacher.
Sexual exploitation is a crime committed when someone who is in a position of trust or authority over a minor either touches or invites the younger person to touch them for a sexual purpose.
Benneweis is now 46 and lives in Edmonton.
His lawyer appeared on his behalf, speaking over the phone.
More on Canada
A publication ban prevents Global News from identifying the complainant, but she told Global News she was disappointed Benneweis wasn’t in the courtroom.
She said she’d been looking forward to this day for a long time. She said she wanted to look Benneweis in the eyes.
The charges have not been proven in court and the class action lawsuit has not been certified.
She said she filed the charges in August 2022.
Saskatoon Police told Global News he surrendered himself, was processed and then released, in January.
Benneweis’ next appearance is scheduled for March 23.
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.