Missouri has launched a criminal investigation into the allegations of abuse and negligence at the Agapé boarding school. Earlier this month, NBC News reported on the allegations of the Missouri boarding school.
Agapé, a Christian boarding school in rural southwestern Missouri, advertises itself as “a facility to reverse rebellious boys.” More than a dozen alumni and former staff have previously told NBC News that Agapé employees often beat up the boys they take care of, and the school has censored the communication between students and their parents.
The Missouri Highway Patrol said on Friday that its drug and crime control department is “investigating Agapé at the request of the Cedar County Sheriff and the Missouri Department of Social Services and Children.”
A spokesperson for the Highway Patrol would not say what prompted the criminal investigation or when the criminal investigation was initiated. This happened two weeks after NBC News and “Dateline” published an investigation into the allegations of Agapé abuse. Kansas City Stars published similar articles in recent months.
The Missouri Department of Social Services declined to comment on Agapé’s investigations, citing confidentiality rules regarding child abuse investigations, but stated that these investigations are “usually investigated with local law enforcement.” Cedar County Sheriff James McCrary (James McCrary) There was no immediate response to a request for comment, and Agapé did not respond.
Agapé’s leaders have not previously responded to requests for comment on the abuse allegations. The school stated on its website that in the past three decades, it has hosted more than 4,000 students between the ages of 12 and 17. Agapé also said that the boy “will find all excuses to explain to his parents why they should not stay here,” and if the school closes, the students will go to jail.
A previous investigation by NBC News found that Missouri was one of the 17 states that exempted religious boarding schools from being licensed and supervised by the state’s child welfare and education authorities. At least 23 states, including Missouri, did not even require religious boarding schools to inform their state education departments of their existence.
Earlier this month, after hearing testimony from alumni of religious boarding schools such as Agapé, the Missouri House Committee introduced bipartisan legislation requiring these schools to register with the state. The law will also give the Ministry of Social Services the power to try to close facilities in case of suspected abuse.