Missouri Reform School Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Agape Baptist Church, Inc. faces accusations of negligently contributing to and causing the death of a former resident of its reformatory school. The individual passed away due to multiple organ failure at the age of 29. Kathleen Britt, the decedent’s mother, recently filed a civil lawsuit seeking to hold the reform school liable for her son’s death. This is just the latest of a growing number of lawsuits reform schools in Missouri for sexual assault and abuse.


Missouri Sex Abuse Lawsuits

School Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

Sex Abuse at Agape Boarding School

Agape Boarding School in Stockton Missouri was religious reform school was an unlicensed religious reform school that shut down last year in the wake of an abuse scandal and investigation. Agape promised to reform students based on religious principles and at one point it houses over 130 students.

The problems for Agape began in 2020 when several former students came forward with allegations of severe and systemic physical and sexual abuse. One of the former students alleged that he was raped at Agape and nicknamed “seizure boy” because of his epilepsy. Others claimed that they were subjected to excessive physical discipline or forced to work long hours of manual labor.

The allegations of physical and sexual abuse at Agape and at Circle of Hope Girls’ Ranch quickly prompted a Missouri to enact a new law mandating stricter oversight of these types of facilities. Missouri previously had virtually no oversight for religious boarding schools.

In 2021, Agape’s longtime doctor, David Smock, was charged with child sex crimes and five employees were charged with lower lever sexual abuse crimes. But in Missouri, only the local prosecutor can file charges, and Cedar County Prosecuting Attorney Ty Gaither has said no additional employees would be charged.

In addition to the criminal charges and new law, Agape has now been the target of a growing number of civil lawsuits involving sexual abuse of students.

Detailed Facts of Recent Agape Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The recent wrongful death lawsuit was filed against Agape Reform School in October 2023 in federal court in Missouri. The lawsuit involves a former student at Agape, Jason Britt. Britt attended Agape school at age 16 and became a victim of employees at the school. The lawsuit claims that Britt regularly suffered physical and emotional abuse by staff members at the school. It also claims that in one incident, a group of Agape staff members trapped him in the school basement and anally gang-raped him.

After leaving the Agape school, Britt apparently became obsessed with weightlifting and body building. The lawsuit contends that this obsession was a direct and proximate result of the emotional damage caused by the abuse Britt endured at Agape. Britt eventually died in 2022 as a result of organ failure caused by his excessive use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. The lawsuit asserts that this was directly caused by the abuse he suffered at Agape.

The lawsuit claims that administrators at the school were aware of the abuse being inflicted on Britt, but did nothing to stop it. Management at the school did not fire the staff members or report the incident to the police. They just simply ignored it.

Sheriff’s Department Also Named as Defendant

Aside from Agape Baptist Church (which operated the Agape reform school), the Britt wrongful death lawsuit also names the Cedar County Sheriff as an additional defendant. According to the Complaint, the Sheriff’s office well aware of the vicious assaults that occurred at Agape and that they frequently colluded with and assisted the school by but apprehending and returning runaways from Agape while ignoring their claims of abuse.


Several members of the Cedar County Sheriff’s Department actually worked at Agape Boarding School. According to the lawsuit, this is why the Sheriff’s Office ignored claims of abuse without any investigation or without involving the county prosecutor.

Liability of Secure Transport Companies in Board School Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Secure transport companies often play a pivotal role in the abuse of young people at private boarding and reform schools like Agape. Secured transport companies are private businesses that will physically apprehend, restrain, and forcibly transport troubled teens to reform schools like Agape.

All these companies need is express consent from the parents and they can send in their own private “swat team” to detain a teen, often tying them up with zip tie handcuffs or rope. Once the teen is secured, they will throw them into the back of a transport vehicle and physically relocate them to the boarding or reform school.

A secured transport company was involved in the recent wrongful death case against Agape. The decedent, Jason Britt, was laying down next to his girlfriend in the middle of the night when a group of armed secure transport personnel burst into the zoom. They told Britt his parents had given him up for adoption, then zip tied his hands and took him to the Agape reform school.

These secure transport companies are drawing increasing scrutiny from lawmakers for the key role they often play in victimizing teens like Britt.

Holding Reform Schools Liable for Abuse

Private and/or religious reform schools such as Agape have a general legal obligation to ensure the safety of their students. At a minimum, this means that these schools are obligated to ensure that the students are not physically assaulted or sexually assaulted or abused while under their care.

When a student at a reform school is physically or sexually assaulted, the school and its administrators can be held liable in a civil negligence lawsuit. To succeed, the plaintiff just needs to show that the school negligently failed to protect the student. Negligence theories in these cases often involve claims for negligently hiring and retaining abusive staff members or failing to have adequate security measures.

Contact Us About Sexual Abuse Lawsuits Against Reform Schools

If you were the victim of sexual abuse at a religious reform school in Missouri and want to file a sexual abuse lawsuit, contact us today at 800-553-8082.

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