Here’s the good news: Five staffers at a Christian boarding school have been charged with 13 separate felony assault counts. All of them worked at Agape Boarding School in Missouri, a place that was at the center of a recent push to get the state to require some oversight of these faith-based “schools” where abuse is rampant.
Here’s the bad news: So many more people could have been charged with so many more crimes:
… Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt recommended prosecuting 22 employees with 65 counts on behalf of 36 victims, including felonies for abuse of a child and tampering with a victim, and misdemeanors for endangering the welfare of a child and failure to report child abuse.
The end result is that Cedar County Prosecuting Attorney Ty Gaither‘s decision to go after a small handful of people instead of everyone allegedly involved with the abuse leaves too much on the table. Justice will not be served.
Recall what one victim said he dealt with at Agape when he attended many years ago:
“I was beaten, assaulted, starved,” said Colton Schrag, of New Mexico, who attended Agape Boarding School in Cedar County from 2006 to 2010. “I’ve seen kids put through walls; I’ve been put through a wall. Kids getting slammed on tile, concrete and asphalt.
“I don’t know how a kid has not died in your state in these schools that exist.”
Given the testimony of witnesses, it’s hard to imagine only five people deserve punishment.
The decision to charge so few people infuriated Schmitt enough that he asked the governor to remove his office from the investigation altogether. Why waste resources on a trial that isn’t interested in total justice?
It’s upsetting to victims, too, according to the Associated Press:
“It’s unacceptable,” said Brett Harper, of Oregon, who attended Agape from 1999 to 2003 and has pushed for three years for an investigation into abuse at the school.
“It’s one third of the people who should be charged and he lowered the charges,” Harper said Tuesday. “Nobody would call that justice.”
Recall that there’s a separate trial awaiting the Christian owners of a different boarding school. Boyd and Stephanie Householder, the founders of the Circle of Hope Girls’ Ranch and Boarding School, also in Missouri, face 102 criminal charges of abuse. They’re still awaiting trial.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to everyone for the link)