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Reformatory CP - January 2005
ky3.com (KYTV-TV), Springfield, Missouri, 26 January 2005
Reform school founder pleads guilty for assault on student
The case is one of several that prompt some to call for more state regulations
By Cara Connelly
WAYNESVILLE, Mo. -- The Rev. Joseph Intagliata says he came to Missouri to help troubled children by running the Hope Baptist Bible Academy in St. James. On Wednesday, he stood in a courtroom here and defended his methods of running the school.
Intagliata pleaded guilty for a misdemeanor third-degree assault and, under a plea agreement with the prosecutor, received two years of probation. If he doesn't get in trouble with the law during those two years, the conviction won't appear on his record. Intagliata was charged with felony assault after a student at the academy accused him of severely bruising him during a paddling. The case was moved from Phelps County to Pulaski County to try to ensure a fair trial, if it had gone to trial.
Paddling is legal in Missouri schools and many school districts, including most in the Ozarks, allow it as a last-resort punishment under strict guidelines. But, over the last couple of years, at least three students at religious reform schools have said their punishment went too far. Their teachers or school directors were charged with abuse, including the Rev. Nathan Day, who founded Thanks to Calvary Baptist Church & Boarding Academy near Waynesville. Investigators and prosecutors believe Day used excessive force to discipline a teenager from Illinois who was at the academy. Day closed the school last November, blaming news reports about his case on his inability to attract enough students to his reform school. Day's criminal case is pending.
Missouri is one of a few states that do not regulate these private schools. Their cafeterias don't even have to be inspected.
My wife and I gave a lot of time and effort to setting up the school, said Intagliata.
Like other private reform schools, Hope Baptist Bible Academy took in rebellious, combative students whose parents were desperate to have their behaviors changed. His methods included spanking with paddles.
I don't know anyone who ever died from paddling, said Intagliata.
The pastor and grandfather shut down his school and moved to another state after the charges. That's the end of Hope Baptist Bible Academy but it's not the end of the debate over religious reform schools in Missouri.
Jordan Blair of Alma, Ark., is another former student at one of those schools who say he was abused, neglected and beaten. Blair was a student at Mountain Park Baptist Bible Academy at Patterson, north of Poplar Bluff. A federal jury sided with him last April in a lawsuit against the school and he was awarded $20,000. Blair started a campaign to have religious reform schools regulated by Missouri.
In jail, you have certain rules and guidelines. At school, you don't know what those rules are, Blair said in an interview last spring. You have no idea. The state doesn't even know what those rules are.
As part of the plea agreement, Intagliata can't publicly talk about this specific incident but he and his lawyer did want to speak out on the push by some to reform or outlaw the schools. Attorney James Bowles of Piedmont says it's a smear campaign.
They have received so much negative publicity and many of them don't have the resources to get their side of the story out, said Bowles. You, in fact, are the first TV station I know of to ask these questions of me or Intagliata.
I have never known any organization that has benefited from having DSS (Department of Social Services) involved. Frankly, I don't have much faith in them.
Intagliata thinks the non-corporal punishments used in most public schools are not effective for the deeply troubled kids enrolled in the private reform schools.
A lot of times, with some of the recommended disciplinary action, it fosters rebellion in a child, the pastor said. For example, if you take away privileges, it just fosters that I'll-get-back-at-you type of attitude. If they have a violation that requires a certain amount of corporal disciple, it's over with and you go on from there.
Former students say they aren't giving up their fight to shut down these reform schools -- or to get the state to step in. Two legislators from the St. Louis area have tried to change the laws but, so far, their bills haven't made it out of committee. Both sides agree this won't be the last time that students and teachers face off in a courtroom in Missouri.
Waynesville Daily Guide, Missouri, 28 January 2005
Excessive paddling leads to probation for St.James pastor
WAYNESVILLE--In a plea agreement with prosecutors on Wednesday, the Rev. Joseph Intagliata pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor third-degree assault charge and will receive two years of probation.
Intagliata, pastor and founder of the Hope Baptist Bible Academy in St. James, was charged with felony assault after one of the students accused him of severely bruising him during a paddling.
Paddling is legal in Missouri schools and there are some school districts that allow it as a last-resort punishment under strict guidelines.
In November, Thanks to Calvary Baptist Church and Boarding Academy in Devils Elbow was closed by the owner, Rev. Nathan Day, after he was accused of using excessive force on a teenager from Illinois. Day's criminal case is still pending.
Many reform schools take in rebellious and sometimes combative students whose parents don't know what to do with anymore and want their child's behavior changed. Hope Baptist Bible Academy was one that took students in and one of the punishments was to receive a paddling.
These reform schools have had some controversy the past couple of years.
In April of last year, Jordan Blair of Alma, Ark. was awarded $20,000 after a federal jury sided with him. Blair was a student at Mountain Park Baptist Bible Academy in Patterson, just north of Poplar Bluff.
Blair has since started a campaign to have religious reform schools regulated by Missouri.
Other former reform school students have stated that they are going to fight to shut down these reform schools or get the state to step in. Two St. Louis legislators have tried to change the laws but both bills have not made it out of committee as of yet.
Intagliata can't publicly talk about his case as a part of his plea agreement but he and his lawyer blamed the media for focusing solely on the accuser and not on what the reform schools have been able to do with troubled children and teenagers.
Intagliata has shut down the St. James school he founded and moved to another state since the charges have been filed.
The case had been moved from Phelps County to Pulaski County in order to give Intagliata a fair trial, if the case had gone to trial.
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