More Student Abuse Lawsuits Filed Against Agape Boarding School in Missouri

Employees and administrators physically and sexually abused students at Agape Boarding School for decades, according to lawsuits

At least five additional Agape Boarding School abuse lawsuits were filed this week, joining a growing number of claims brought forth by former students abused physically or sexually during their time at the private Missouri facility.

The student abuse lawsuits have already led to at least five staff members and Agape’s in-house doctor, David Smock, being charged with child sex crimes, after years of misconduct were revealed in an investigation by Missouri officials, according to a June 19 report by the Kansas City Star.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Division of Drug and Crime Control launched a criminal investigation in February 2021, at the request of the County Sherriff and the Missouri Department of Social Services Children’s Division, after multiple former students raised allegations that they were sexually or physically abused as students at Agape Boarding School in Stockton, Missouri.

To date, criminal investigations by both local and State officials are still underway to identify responsible staff, owners and facility personnel. Recent reports from news sources have also suggested the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has inquired about the allegations. However the FBI has not publicly stated whether an official investigation is underway.

Since September 2021, nearly twenty lawsuits have been filed against Missouri’s Agape Boarding School, each indicating that former students were physically abused, tortured, starved, molested and assaulted, which the Missouri State Highway Patrol investigation says appeared to have been standard operating procedures at the private boarding school over a period of nearly 30 years.

Former students have described nightmarish incidents of torture, deprivation, and sexual assaults at the Christian boys boarding school, with some describing trying to sleep while hearing the screams of children crying as they were being assaulted, which reverberated through the halls.

This week, five more Agape Boarding School student lawsuits were filed, each raising similar allegations, and claiming students were denied medical treatment and necessary prescription medications.

On top of the boarding school abuse, lawsuits also accuse the facility of violating the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, by deceiving parents and concealing information about what was being done to their children. The lawsuits claim parents were told, incorrectly, that Agape did not use corporal punishment, or restraint positions, such as chokeholds, except in brief and extreme circumstances. The students and investigators say that information was false.

As investigations and lawsuits against the facility are pursued, Missouri officials have taken legislative action to correct a decades-old problem with oversight of religious boarding schools, which many claim have allowed these types of tragic misconducts to occur.

Missouri was one of seventeen states that exempted religious boarding schools from state child welfare and education authority regulatory oversight, which was granted under a 1982 law allowing religious organizations to claim licensing exemption. However, the Missouri House Committee on Children and Families unanimously voted to pass bipartisan legislation in early 2021, known as The Child Residential Home Notification Act, which will require all religious boarding schools to register with the state and mandate federal criminal background checks for all employees and volunteers, as well as adhere to fire, safety and health regulations.

While the legislation has received unanimous support, some claim it comes far too late for thousands of children who have suffered abuse at the faith-based Agape Boarding School for decades.

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