Missouri’s attorney general has called a press conference for Wednesday in Jefferson City regarding his office’s investigation into the troubled Circle of Hope Girls’ Ranch. The ranch is near southwest Missouri’s Humansville.
Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R) will brief reporters at noon, outside the Missouri Capitol.
The “Kansas City Star” newspaper, citing sources, reports the owners of Circle of Hope have been arrested on numerous charges, following a months-long investigation by Schmitt’s office. Missourinet Springfield television partner KOLR-10 reports the two owners have been charged with 102 felonies between them.
The issues at Circle of Hope, Agape Boarding School near Stockton and other facilities have drawn the attention of Missouri lawmakers in both parties.
State Reps. Keri Ingle, D-Lee’s Summit, and Rudy Veit, R-Wardsville, have filed bipartisan legislation that’s aimed at regulating faith-based boarding schools. Ingle notes that current state law doesn’t allow any regulation or oversight on residential care facilities for children, as long as the facilities declare themselves as religious.
“That meant that they had absolutely zero oversight at all. There were no regulations, no oversight. And that means no health and safety standards. No background checks, no criminal background checks,” Ingle told Missourinet in February.
Ingle was featured in February on NBC’s “Dateline”, for her legislation. She has told Missourinet that the issue with faith-based boarding schools goes well beyond the Circle of Hope, and appears to be a systemic issue in facilities across the state.
“Dateline” also profiled the story of Colton Schrag, who traveled to Jefferson City in mid-February to testify for Ingle’s bill. Schrag testified that he was physically abused and barely fed while living at the Agape ranch. Schrag told lawmakers that he was abused by four staff members at Agape.
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