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Missouri regulates boarding schools after abuse allegations

This undated photo shows Maggie Drew. Drew, now 29, is among several former students of Circle of Hope Girls' Ranch who have alleged abuse at the Christian boarding school in southwestern Missouri. The husband-and-wife operators of the school have been charged with around 100 crimes combined. Religious boarding schools like Circle of Hope and a nearby facility for boys, Agape, have come under scrutiny amid tales of abuse, prompting a new state law providing greater oversight. (photo by Maggie Drew via AP)
Posted at 4:22 PM, Apr 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-02 17:25:54-04

Maggie Drew’s dad sent her to Circle of Hope Girls’ Ranch in Missouri in 2007, hoping strict Christian teachings would stop his 14-year-old daughter’s teenage rebellion.

Instead, Drew said, she found herself in a nightmare, sexually abused by one of the boarding school’s founders and left with permanent spinal injuries after a fall from a hay barn for which she received no medical attention.

Just 25 miles away at another Christian boarding school, Brett Harper says he endured abuse that included staff members stomping on his back. He said his injuries required two spinal surgeries and left him disabled.

They are among dozens of people who say they were abused at either Circle of Hope or Agape Boarding School — allegations that helped prompt a new Missouri law aimed at reining in religious boarding schools that for decades went without any oversight by the state.

“I still have nightmares about these people and the things they did to us,” Drew said.

This article can be read in its entirety here.

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