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Grieving Mom Says Agape Boarding School’s Abuse Led to Son’s … – Riverfront Times

Oct 27th, 2023

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Agape boarding school in Stockton, MO.

An Idaho woman who alleges her son died because of the abuse he suffered at the infamous Agape boarding school in Stockton, Missouri, sued the school in federal court yesterday.

Kathleen Britt says that she sent her son to the boarding school more than a decade ago after she and her husband became increasingly distraught over his use of drugs and alcohol. She says that Agape was made out to be "a safe, kind and Christian environment free from drugs and alcohol" where her son's days would include sports and other group activities.

In reality, she says, the school was akin to a concentration camp or torture colony cloaked in the guise of religion." She says what her son endured at the school led him to dangerous behaviors that ultimately killed him and is seeking damages from the school, members of its staff and administration as well as the local sheriff.

Her suit is hardly the first legal action taken against the people who ran Agape, which shut down this January. Former students have described experiencing physical and sexual abuse and being forced to complete hard labor and extreme exercise. In 2021, a doctor who worked at the school was charged with felony sex crimes. Five other staff members were charged with assault.

The lawsuit filed yesterday is the first lawsuit alleging wrongful death.

The horror of Agape began for Britts son, Jason, in 2010 before he even left his home state. He was 16 at the time.

Britt's lawsuit says that she relied on the boarding school to transport her son from Idaho to Missouri. The day Jason was to be taken to the boarding school, two men showed up in the middle of the night to the guest room at Jason's girlfriend's house, where he was staying, zip tied his hands and took him to the airport.

At Agape, the suit says, the teen was gang raped, sodomized and beaten. Kathleen pulled him out of the school and brought him back to Idaho over the objections of Agapes staff.

Back in Idaho, the suit says Jason was "completely different," withdrawn and suffering high anxiety. His drug use was greater than when his parents sent him away to Missouri.

He took to weightlifting as a way to defend himself out of fear of again being sexually assaulted. The weightlifting led to his taking human growth hormone and anabolic steroids. As a result of the steroid use he suffered kidney failure.

He died of multi organ failure in February 2022 at the age of 29.

The lawsuit says that a combination of performance enhancing drugs, high blood pressure, anxiety and drug addiction were the mechanisms of his death. However, the suit alleges, "the cause of his death was the abuse at Agape."

Named defendants in the suit include the now-shuttered school's dean of students Julio Sandoval, several staff members, and Cedar County Sheriff James Jimbob McCrary.

Agape was located in Cedar County. Britt says in her suit that when she became aware of what was going on at the school she contacted the sheriff's office, who took no action. The suit also claims that the sheriff similarly did not act when boys would run away from Agape and complain to law enforcement of the abuse they suffered at the school.

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