FBI Involvement in Agape Boarding School Investigation
Updated: Oct 20, 2021
Agape Boarding school has had its share of abuse allegations over the years. The Clemenson family, who currently runs Agape, has been shut down in two states due to abuse allegations but no charges were ever made. The school has been operating in Missouri where until 2021, privately owned schools were not required to report to the state. This created an environment ripe for abuse to happen.
In early 2021, a group of courageous survivors successfully worked with local lawmakers to enact additional protections and regulations for children. This included previously undocumented schools being required to register with the state. Since this time, multiple private IFB Boarding schools have been shut down due to the owners being charged with various charges of abuse and assault (physical and sexual).
The Missouri State Highway Patrol said that its Division of Drug and Crime Control is investigating Agape” at the request of the Cedar County Sheriff and the Missouri Department of Social Services Children’s Division.” A spokesman for the Highway Patrol would not say what prompted the criminal probe or when it began. The development comes two weeks after NBC News and “Dateline” published the results of an investigation into abuse allegations at Agape. The Kansas City Star has published similar articles in recent months. In recent days, the FBI has been inquiring into allegations of child abuse at Agape Boarding School in Cedar County, said two former students of the school who are now plaintiffs in ongoing civil lawsuits against Agape. The former students seek damages from the school over allegations of severe physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
Agape advertises itself as a facility that “turns around rebellious boys.” More than a dozen alumni and former staff members previously told NBC News that Agape employees frequently assaulted the boys in their care, and that the school censored students’ communication with their parents. Agape also claims that boys “will find any and every excuse to give their parents as to why they shouldn’t remain here,” and if the school were shut down, then the students would end up in jail.
On September 28th, a southwest Missouri prosecutor said he has charged five employees of a private Christian boarding school with abusing students — far fewer than the number of charges recommended by state investigators. 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.
An investigation into the school began after The Star reported on the abuse allegations last year. Since then, former students testified at legislative hearings that they tried to report the abuse at Agape and the now-closed Circle of Hope Girls Ranch for years, but that Cedar County authorities and other officials did not respond to the complaints.
Circle of Hope Girls Ranch near Humansville was closed last year after authorities removed about 25 students amid an investigation into abuse and neglect allegations. The owners, Boyd and Stephanie Householder, were charged in March and await trial on 100 criminal counts — all but one is felonies — including statutory rape, sodomy and physical abuse and neglect. Both have pleaded not guilty and were released in July on $10,000 bond pending trial.
FBI personnel appeared to be trying to determine if allegations of wrongdoing at Agape might cross state lines and thus fall under federal law enforcement review, one of the former students stated. The former student, 19, now lives in California and said he had phone conversations with workers at FBI offices in Washington, D.C. and Kansas City.
Another former student, a 27-year-old Michigan man identified in court papers as "R.B.," said he had been in touch with FBI offices in Washington, D.C.; Kansas City and Springfield in recent days. He stated a Kansas City FBI official told him that Springfield's FBI office was looking into Agape.
Agape Boarding School did not return multiple requests for comment or statements.