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9 more lawsuits filed against Agape Boarding School in Cedar County, Mo.

Published: Apr. 8, 2022 at 9:42 PM CDT
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CEDAR COUNTY, Mo. (KY3) - Several more former students of a boy’s Christian boarding school in Cedar County are filing lawsuits.

The group claims a wide range of abuse, from starvation to physical and emotional abuse.

”For nearly three decades, students at Agape Boarding School have experienced emotional, mental, physical and sexual abuse,” the group’s attorney, Ryan Frazier, said in a statement to KY3 on Friday. “Today, we filed petitions in Cedar County for nine of those victims, to pursue justice for the trauma they endured and to have their voices heard.”

Robert Bucklin went to the school from age 13 to 18. During that time, Bucklin said he suffered the same abuse. He previously filed a lawsuit against the boarding school.

“What happened to us is not our fault, it’s not our shame,” Bucklin said. “It’s something they have to live with forever, knowing that they hurt little children.”

Bucklin described some of his painful experiences at Agape.

“You’re just screaming for help,” he said. “You can literally hear the blood curdling screams from the kids downstairs in the restraining room.”

During his time at Agape, Bucklin said he wrote letters home.

”There’s letters I wrote home and in my file that talk about how I wish I was dead,” Bucklin said. “And that dead animals get treated better than we did. [I] talk about physical abuse, sexual abuse.”

He said he felt silenced by the school for years.

”They instilled a type of fear in you to not speak out,” Bucklin said. “They broke us.”

But now he is one of many to come forward. Eight more are now seeking justice.

”For so long, you know, nobody believed us,” he said. “But now everyone believes us.”

The nine lawsuits filed on Friday recall similar stories. Bucklin said he just wants to prevent the same things from happening again.

”To me, my lawsuit doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “There’s no amount of money that can buy you justice or closure. So many of us would feel like we would get some type of justice and closure by knowing that they can’t hurt anybody else.”

On top of the nine new lawsuits filed, Bucklin said there is a wave of others coming soon. More from groups in Springfield and Kansas City.

“I think, as more and more people come forward, other children will come forth as well,” Bucklin said.

A prosecutor charged five staffers in September with abusing students. The Agape Boarding School remains open. Some former students say, including Bucklin, said that is very concerning to them. They wish the state would take stronger action

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