Sixteen former students at a now-closed Christian boarding school in southwest Missouri have settled lawsuits alleging they were abused at the school.

The settlement amounts for the lawsuits against the former Agape Baptist Church were not disclosed, The Kansas City Star reported Tuesday. The church ran the school near Stockton in Cedar County.

The cases were dismissed with prejudice, which means they can't be filed again.

Four lawsuits remain in federal court and four others are pending in state court.
The former students alleged in the lawsuits that they were assaulted, neglected and sometimes sexually abused and tortured.

“We are certainly grateful that our clients’ cases were settled to their satisfaction,” said Randy Cowherd, who represented some former Agape students. “We hope the settlements will result in some form of closure for them that will assist them in working through the impact of the abuses they suffered while at Agape."

Another case was resolved without needing to file a lawsuit, Cowherd said.

The Agape Boarding School closed in January. It was the fourth and last unlicensed Christian boarding school to close in Cedar County since September 2020. The school's former director, Bryan Clemensen, said the school closed because it did not have the funding to continue.

Authorities began an investigation of the abuse claims in 2021 and five staff members — including the school’s medical coordinator — were charged with low-level felonies of physically assaulting students.

Three staff members pleaded guilty to lesser misdemeanors and were placed on two years of probation. Another case was dismissed when the alleged victim did not show up to testify and the fifth case is scheduled for a hearing on Monday.

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