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The speaker of the Missouri House is urging the U.S. attorney in Kansas City to shut down Agape Boarding School, accusing the Christian school of “what amounts to organized crime against children.”

Republican House Speaker Rob Vescovo sent a letter Wednesday to U.S. Attorney Teresa Moore that was made available to reporters on Monday. In it, Vescovo said state efforts to close the school have failed, and the local prosecutor has failed to take action to protect the boys who attend the school in the southwestern Missouri town of Stockton.

“Right now in Missouri we are faced with the horrifying truth that a network of immoral individuals have engaged in what amounts to organized crime against children,” Vescovo wrote. But he said the situation is “more far-reaching and contains more deeply-rooted corruption than we are able to address solely at the state level.”

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Kansas City declined comment.

Agape’s attorney, John Schultz, called the allegations against the school “100% false.”

“There’s no evidence to support closing down Agape,” Schultz said.

A Cedar County judge is still weighing the request from Republican Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt to close Agape and require the release of the boys who live at the campus. On Monday, Judge David Munton rescinded an order allowing state Department of Social Services workers to remain on the premises of the school.

Schmitt’s office on Monday filed an amended petition and asked for a new judge. The new filing seeks a court order allowing state workers to remain at the school to make sure the students are safe.

“We have been steadfast in our fight to protect the students at Agape, and we will not stop until justice is done in this case,” Chris Nuelle, a spokesman for Schmitt, said in an email.

The new petition said Agape’s director told the state that plans call for moving away from a boarding school facility starting Tuesday. Instead, the petition states, boys will live in five group homes on the property, with about nine boys in each house.

“The State will not allow Agape to escape accountability or continue to present an immediate health and safety concern to children through corporate shell games while employing the same people and methods that originally led the State to bring this action to protect children,” the petition states.

Agape’s website calls it a boarding school “for teenage boys exhibiting bad behavior or failing academics. Our mission is to turn around your troubled teen.”

Schmitt’s office first filed a motion to close Agape earlier this month, accusing the school of allowing someone on the state registry for child abuse and neglect to work there, and alleging systemic abuse. Agape officials told authorities that the person on the registry was fired, but a court filing from Schmitt’s office said the school presents “an immediate health and safety concern for the children residing at Agape.”

Last year, Agape’s longtime doctor, David Smock, was charged with child sex crimes and five employees were charged with low-level abuse counts. Schmitt’s office contended that 22 workers should have been charged, and with more serious 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.

Several lawsuits filed on behalf of former students also have named Agape and Circle of Hope, a Christian boarding school for girls in a neighboring county. Circle of Hope was shut down in 2020 and its husband-and-wife co-founders face a combined 99 charges that include child abuse and neglect and sex crimes.

The abuse allegations at the two schools prompted lawmakers to pass a new law last year requiring stricter regulation of boarding schools.

By JIM SALTER, Associated Press



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ROLLA, Mo. – Sheriff’s deputies in Phelps County have arrested a Newburg, Missouri man on warrants out of North Carolina for child sex and assault charges.

The Phelps County Sheriff’s Department posted to Facebook on Sept. 20 that deputies arrested Charles Mason that morning. Mason is charged in Durham County, North Carolina with statutory sex offenses with a child less than 15 years of age and child abuse involving a sexual act. He was charged in Phelps County with being a fugitive from out of state.

In August, the Phelps County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charged Mason with three counts of first-degree child molestation, three counts of abuse or neglect of a child, and one count of tampering with a victim in a felony prosecution.

Mason posted bond back in August. It is unclear when exactly the crimes in North Carolina occurred.

Messages left with the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department regarding the investigation have gone unanswered.



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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – An anonymous threat has caused Mehlville High School to lock down Monday.

The Mehlville School District said as of 12:30 p.m., police were at the school investigating. They assured all parents that all students and staff are safe.

The district said all “students remain locked in their classrooms or other safe location” during a lockdown. No one is allowed to enter or exit the school at this time until the police give an all clear. They ask parents to not come to the school to pick up their children.

An update will be sent out shortly. FOX 2 will continue to update this story with more information as it becomes available.



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ST. LOUIS – Pills have their downside when it comes to addressing the problem of E.D.

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Andrew Reinhart talked about the latest breakthrough treatment called the True Pulse Protocol. There are no needles, drugs, or surgery, so the downtime is minimal. Appointments are available, make one today.

Pine View Medical Clinic

PineViewMedicalClinic.com

314-530-7777



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ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Schnucks will be purchasing the Fricks Market stores located in Union and Sullivan, Missouri. The locations are closing for a few days in October as they make the transition to the new ownership. Employees are being offered jobs with the new company.

The Fricks store located in Union will close for three days starting October 23. It will reopen on October 27 as a Schnucks store.

The Sullivan store will close and reopen during the same dates in October. It will remain a Fricks Market until a new 23,000 square foot “Schnucks Fresh” store is completed. That store will be located on East Springfield Road near Highway 185. A “grand opening” date has not set yet.

Representatives from Schnucks are meeting with the 66 Fricks Markets employees. They are offering employment offers at both locations. Employees will remain in a union.

“We know Schnucks will continue to serve Union and Sullivan customers with access to high quality, nutritional foods as we have done since 1960,” said Jennifer Newbanks, President, Fricks Market. “As our family moves on to the next chapter, we are grateful for the employees who have worked with us as well as the customers who have shopped with us over the years.”

The Fricks Market locations in Sullivan and Union are the only grocery stores in the family-owned chain. Schnucks currently operates 112 stores with 12,000 employees in Missouri, Illinois, and Wisconsin.



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ST. LOUIS – A man was literally stabbed in the back by his girlfriend early Monday morning in south St. Louis.

The 43-year-old man told police that he woke up at about 1 a.m. with a sharp pain from his back. Police said, “When he got up, he observed his girlfriend holding a knife confronting him over a personal matter.” The man then left the home in the 3500 block of Morgan Ford Road and went to a relative’s home to call 911.

The man was taken to the hospital and treated for a “superficial laceration to his back.”

The 31-year-old woman was taken into custody at the scene. FOX 2 will continue to update this story with more information as it becomes available.



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ST. LOUIS –  In less than seven weeks, you’ll need a photo ID to vote in Missouri.

Unless a judge blocks the new law before November.

Two groups filed two lawsuits last month asking a judge to block certain parts of a new state election’s law. The League of Women Voters and the NAACP said the legislation infringes on their freedom of speech and their ability to engage with voters. The state argues the organizations do not have enough witnesses to say the new law effects a Missourian from casting future ballots.

“The burdens that are imposed on speech here are not severe, they qualify as what the United States Supreme Court calls lesser burdens on expression and association,” Assistant Attorney General Charles Capps said.

“The state of Missouri has made it a felony to approach your neighbor and say, hey, I would really encourage you to apply to vote absentee,” Danielle Lang of the League of Women Voters said.

Under the law, if you don’t register with the Secretary of State before assisting a Missourian to register to vote, it could result in a felony and losing the right to vote.

The judge said he plans to make a ruling in the coming weeks.



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ST. LOUIS – McCluer High School is holding a town hall meeting Monday night.

The school wants to address student behavior. Classes were cancelled last Tuesday, so students could “pause and reset” following a rough Monday.

Part of the air conditioning system went out, with temperatures rising above 80 degrees in some classrooms. Officials said during lunch, someone set off a smoke bomb, forcing an evacuation. Then the school said some students started fighting, which officials broke up. The air conditioning is now fixed.

Officials said they want to hear suggestions for improving the safety for McCluer students at Monday night’s town hall. The meeting is at 6:00 p.m. at the high school.



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O’FALLON, Ill. – A home near O’Fallon, Illinois is on fire Monday morning.

The fire started at about 7 a.m. at a home in the 1400 block of Simmons Road. The O’Fallon and Hollywood Heights Fire Departments are responding.

It is unknown at this time what caused the fire. No injuries were immediately reported. FOX 2 will continue to update this story with more information as it becomes available. FOX 2’s Bommarito Automotive Group SKyFOX helicopter flew over the scene.



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ARNOLD, Mo. – A fire was reported Monday morning at Fox High School in Arnold, Missouri.

The report came out at about 6:45 a.m. The fire was reportedly in an electrical socket. First responders were on the scene.

FOX 2’s Bommarito Automotive Group SkyFOX helicopter flew over the scene.



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