The five workers at Agape Residential School near Stockton have been charged with a total of 13 counts of third degree assault, Cedar County District Attorney Ty Gaither said.
The charges come after the Missouri State Highway Patrol investigated allegations of abuse at the school.
Based on this investigation, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt recommended prosecuting 22 employees with 65 counts on behalf of 36 victims, including crimes of child abuse and victim tampering. , and crimes for endangering the well-being of a child and failure to report a child. abuse.
After Gaither said last week that he planned to bill far fewer employees than recommended, Schmitt asked Gov. Mike Parson to remove his office from the investigation because he didn’t believe Gaither intended to ” demand justice âfor all victims.
Gaither said that office considered “these to be the appropriate charges under investigation,” the Kansas City Star reported.
Although Gaither sought the assistance of the attorney general in this case, Missouri law gives county prosecutors exclusive power to decide which charges to lay.
A Missouri law passed in 1982 exempted religious residential care facilities from state licensing requirements. After allegations of abuse in Agape last year, the legislature passed a law that gave the state greater oversight over unlicensed residential care facilities for children.
âThis is unacceptable,â said Brett Harper, of Oregon, who dated Agape from 1999 to 2003 and pushed for three years for an investigation into school abuse.
“That’s a third of the people who should be charged and he has lowered the charges,” Harper said Tuesday. “No one would call this justice.”
The Star reported that two former students contacted the FBI last week and learned that the agency’s office was investigating the Agape case. An FBI spokesperson in Kansas City has neither confirmed nor denied an investigation.
According to court records online, probable cause statements describing alleged offenses will be kept confidential in order to protect the rights of victims.
Two of those charged are former students who became employees of Agape: the medical director, Scott L. Dumar, and Seth Duncan, the son-in-law of David Smock, a doctor from Stockton who provided medical care to Agape students during years. The other accused are Christopher R. McElroy, Everett L. Graves and Trent E. Hartman.
An investigation into the school has begun after The Star reported the abuse allegations last year. Since then, former students have testified in legislative hearings that they had tried to report the abuse to Agape and the now closed Circle of Hope Girls Ranch for years, but that authorities in Cedar County and other officials had not responded to complaints.
The Circle of Hope Girls Ranch near Humansville was closed last year after authorities removed about 25 students as part of an investigation into allegations of abuse and neglect.
The owners, Boyd and Stephanie Householder, were charged in March and await trial on 100 counts – all but one of felonies – including rape, sodomy, physical abuse and neglect. Both pleaded not guilty and were released in July on $ 10,000 bail pending trial.