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Reformatory CP - October 2004

Corpun file 14107

logo (KOLR 10 TV), Springfield, Missouri, 5 October 2004

Waynesville Reform School to Close

Thanks to Calvary signboard
A religious reform school in south-central Missouri is closing following abuse allegations, the second such center to shutter in five months. Thanks to Calvary Baptist Church and Boarding Academy, near Waynesville, send home its students by week's end, the school's lawyer, Al W. Johnson, said.

Johnson said enrollment dropped after the school's founder, Nathan Day, was accused of using excessive discipline against an Illinois teen last year. Day is charged with four counts of felony child abuse. A trial date has not been scheduled.

Missouri law generally exempts religious boarding schools from state regulation and oversight, but some schools have had to fight critics who say they excessively discipline students.

The schools often attract parents desperate to change their children's drug use, gang activity and violent behavior.

In May, Mountain Park Baptist Boarding Academy, in southeast Missouri near the Wayne County town of Patterson, closed following sagging enrollment and a $20,000 jury award to a teen who claimed mistreatment. Day, a former Marine, had worked at Mountain Park before opening Thanks to Calvary six years ago.

Johnson in part blamed Thanks to Calvary's closure on attacks by state child-abuse investigators. He said the criminal charges against Day were unfounded but media attention had made recruiting students difficult.

Day is accused of paddling Christopher Jensen of Marseilles, Ill., until he developed deep bruises on his legs and buttocks.

"I think it's another case of the state targeting unlicensed and unregulated facilities," Johnson said.

Religious reform school Heartland Christian Academy, in rural northeast Missouri near the Lewis County town of Bethel, has successfully fought allegations of abuse, with charges against the school's employees either being dropped or dismissed by juries.

A judge recently awarded $800,000 to Heartland, saying a raid by abuse investigators was unjustified.

Copyright 2004. The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

All content Copyright 2004, Mission Broadcasting, Inc. and KOLR 10. All Rights Reserved.

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