Saskatoon residents name for metropolis councillor’s resignation, different motion in wake of abuse allegations
Some Saskatoon residents are calling for longtime city councillor Randy Donauer to resign after allegations of physical and emotional abuse have come out against him.
Two former students of Christian Centre Academy and the adjacent Saskatoon Christian Centre church, now called Legacy Christian Academy and Mile Two Church, allege Donauer hit them with a large wooden paddle in a discipline process known as paddling.
One former student says Donauer paddled them nearly a dozen times, sometimes while the student’s pants were 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 rumours being shared about me, I vehemently deny any wrongdoing,” he wrote in a statement to CBC News.
“If any legal claims involving me are made I will vigorously defend [against] them.”
Coy Nolin is one of the students who said he was physically abused by Donauer. In a police statement, Nolin said the abuse occurred in the summer of 2003 when he was 16 years old working as a counsellor at a bible camp run by Saskatoon Christian Centre.
Nolin said he is going to file a formal complaint against Donauer to try to get him removed from council. Nolin is scheduled to meet with his lawyer Thursday to figure out the best way to make the complaint.
“[I’m] doing whatever I need to do to voice my opinion that I don’t agree with this person being on city council,” Nolin said in an interview.
Coy Nolin and another former Christian Centre Academy student say current Saskatoon city councillor Randy Donauer physically and emotionally abused them. (Travis Reddaway/CBC)
Others have taken to social media to call for Donauer’s resignation.
Todd Cocks, a Saskatoon resident and computer programmer, wrote to city council asking for Donauer to be removed from all boards and positions where he represents the City of Saskatoon.
“To have someone represent Saskatoon while these allegations are being brought public is abhorrent,” Cocks wrote in a letter.
“I believe Mr. Donauer has the right of due process but, in the interim, it is my belief that he should be removed from any privileged positions he holds.”
Donauer currently sits on six city boards and committees.
Cocks, who is gay, says he’s also concerned about Donauer’s religious views, noting that Donauer was the only councillor to vote against a bylaw last year to ban conversion therapy in the community.
Donauer said at the time that he took issue with the bylaw’s definition of conversion therapy.
He proposed an amendment that would have allowed consenting adults to seek out therapy or counselling that could perhaps help them change their “lifestyle” should they choose.
“I think it’s just a really black eye for the city to have a city councillor who obviously has a discomfort with one part of society and is now wrapped up in these allegations as well,” Cocks told CBC News.
Donauer was the only councillor to vote against a bylaw banning conversion therapy in Saskatoon. (Jane Robertson/CBC)
Nolin also takes issue with Donauer voting against banning conversion therapy.
“That holds a very special place in my heart, being a part of the LGBT community,” Nolin said.
Nolin has said that, as a teenager attending Legacy Christian Centre, he had four church and school officials perform an exorcism at his home to try to rid him of his “gay demon.”
Donauer did not respond to CBC’s questions about the bylaw and conversion therapy.
Allegations against Donauer ‘concerning’: mayor
In a statement to CBC News, Mayor Charlie Clark said the allegations against Donauer are “concerning” and that he only learned of 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 also acknowledging that there is a formal criminal investigation underway.”
In another statement sent Thursday afternoon, Clark said he will be asking city administration for a report “outlining what governance options are available to council through this period of uncertainty.”
“The integrity of our governance process, and the confidence of the public in this process, is very important to me,” Clark wrote.
Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark says the allegations against Donauer are ‘concerning.’ (CBC News)
Nolin and another student have made statements to police regarding Donauer.
Grant Scharfstein, who represents former Christian Centre Academy students in a proposed class action lawsuit against more than 20 school and church officials, said allegations against Donauer are being added to the dozens of criminal assault complaints made to Saskatoon police.
Donauer was not initially named as one of the lawsuit defendants but Scharfstein said the intent is to add him in the coming weeks.
In total, police are investigating criminal complaints from more than 40 students against various officials.
How complaints against councillors work
Saskatoon residents can make complaints about city councillors to the provincial ombudsman and to the city’s integrity commissioner, though the city’s code of ethics says the commissioner will advise people making criminal allegations to go to the police.
Angela Kruk, the integrity commissioner, has to report to the complainant and the councillor within 90 days of receiving the complaint. If she determines that the code of ethics has been violated, she first has to present her findings to the governance and priorities committee in an in-camera meeting. Donauer currently sits on that committee.
If the complaint is dismissed, the commissioner won’t have to report to council except as part of an annual or periodic report, according to the code of ethics.
But if the complaint isn’t dismissed, the commissioner’s report will go on to the full city council. The report would include recommended sanctions or corrective actions, which can include a letter of reprimand addressed to the councillor, suspending or removing a councillor from committees, or requiring the councillor to attend training.