Judge rules Agape Boarding School may stay open until next week’s hearing

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 1:29 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2022 at 7:21 PM CDT
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STOCKTON, Mo. (KY3) - A Cedar County judge ordered the Agape Boarding School may stay open with one exception. Judge David Munton’s ruled round-the-clock monitoring by Missouri child welfare workers must continue.

The school serves about 60 boys. Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office fought to close the school after learning someone on the state registry for child abuse, and neglect was actively working there. The attorney general’s office filed an amended motion alleging systemic abuse. Earlier this month, Judge Munton considered closing the school, but Agape officials told authorities that the person on the abuse and neglect registry was fired.

When searched online, the school promotes itself by saying, “We’re still open and accepting students!” It calls itself a “Christian Boarding School That Turns Around Rebellious Boys.”

Judge Munton denied a motion by Agape’s attorneys to send the state’s case to trial.

Judge Munton did say the state has the standing to investigate.

“The law allows the Missouri Attorney General to take action if there’s an immediate threat of harm or safety to the kids at a boarding school. And when the Attorney General’s Office will learn to have that immediate harm or threaten we took immediate action decisive action in filing that initial petition,” said Chris Nuelle, Spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office.

The attorney for Agape does plan to appeal, saying the state’s attempt to shut it down interferes with property rights.

Allegations of physical and sexual abuse at Agape and nearby Christian boarding school Circle of Hope Girls’ Ranch prompted a state law last year requiring stricter oversight of such facilities. Among other things, the new law allows state or local authorities to petition the court for the closure of a facility if there is believed to be an immediate health or safety threat to the children.

The two sides return to court on Monday in Cedar County.

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