Owners of Boarding School Charged With Felonies

Charges against Missouri husband and wife include first-degree kidnapping
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 4, 2024 7:15 PM CST
Owners of Boarding School Charged With Felonies
This photo provided by David Clohessy shows the entrance of ABM Ministries, a Christian boarding school in Piedmont, Missouri.   (David Clohessy via AP)

The husband and wife owners of a Missouri boarding school for boys have been jailed and charged with felony crimes after a lengthy investigation by a county sheriff. Wayne County Sheriff Dean Finch said in a news release that Larry Musgraves Jr., 57, was arrested Friday evening on the ABM Ministries campus in Piedmont, a small town 130 miles south of St. Louis. Carmen Musgraves, 64, was arrested around 3am Saturday when she came to the jail to check on her husband, Finch said. Both have been charged with first-degree kidnapping and jailed without bond, the AP reports.

ABM Ministries' website says its facility, operated as Lighthouse Christian Academy, is a private Christian boarding school for boys ages 10-13, situated on 250 acres that include a spring-fed pond and a pasture with animals. Finch said that since early January, his office has received reports of five runaways from the school. In one instance, two boys were picked up by a neighboring resident and taken home. The boys asked her to call 911. But Finch said his investigation began several months ago after he was contacted by a former student living in Alabama. He followed up by interviewing other former students and eventually the current students.

The sheriff's department "anticipates more charges as the investigation continues, with more alleged victims coming forward," the news release stated. The school was coed in 2009 when a federal lawsuit accused a former principal of sex acts with a female student and alleged that the Musgraveses failed to take action to protect the girl. Court records show that ABM Ministries and the Musgraveses agreed to pay $750,000 in a settlement, and the principal agreed to pay $100,000. Former students say justice was long overdue. Juliana Davis, now 34, says she was abused at the school in 2006 and 2007. "I'm glad that he took us seriously," Davis says of Finch. "There's a whole group of us that have been trying for decades, speaking out about what happened to us and what we saw."

(More Missouri stories.)

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