Wrongful Death Lawsuit Alleges Missouri Reformatory School Enabled Sexual Abuse

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Alleges Missouri Reformatory School Enabled Sexual Abuse

Agape Baptist Church, Inc. stands accused of negligently contributing to and causing the death of a former resident of its reformatory school, who succumbed to multiple organ failure at the age of 29. His mother, Kathleen Britt, is now in pursuit of accountability and compensation for the premature death of her son through a civil lawsuit against the church. 

The litigation is the first wrongful death claim to confront the heinous abuse, recklessness, negligence, and conspiracy of Agape Boarding School, Cedar County law enforcement, and secure transportation companies. At the center of the suit is an unfathomable crime that traumatized a 16-year-old boy in Stockton, Missouri, and haunted him for the rest of his life. 

With the recent surge of boarding school sexual assault lawsuits, the Britt family’s case is the latest to illustrate the terrors of under- and unregulated facilities. Filed in the Southern Division of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, it is one of the most sweeping and severe lawsuits to challenge the prominent Baptist church. 

Wrongful Death Charges Leveled Against Agape Boarding School: “A Compound for Abuse”

Jason Britt attended Agape’s religious reformatory school at the age of 16 and soon fell victim to the brutality of its agents and employees. After suffering a litany of physical and emotional assaults, a group of staffers trapped him in the school’s basement and anally gang-raped him. 

Upon leaving Agape Boarding School, Jason Britt devoted himself to weightlifting, earning several titles in competitions and enhancing his performance through the heavy and unhealthy consumption of steroids. The complaint alleges that Britt’s February 2022 death was a direct consequence of the egregious abuse to which he was subjected, including: 

  • Forced strip-searches
  • Restraint, pushing, shoving, and beating
  • Dehydration and malnutrition
  • Severely restricted contact with family members

At no point did Agape’s management or administration contact hotlines, refer the sexual assaults to law enforcement, or report the abuse to relevant state welfare agents. Instead, the scion of Agape Baptist Church, Inc. chose both to ignore the incidents and continue to employ their perpetrators. 

The Potential Collusion and Alleged Negligence of the Cedar County Sheriff’s Office

Aside from Agape Baptist Church, the wrongful death lawsuit names the Cedar County Sheriff as a defendant. The complaint alleges that local law enforcement was not only aware of the vicious assaults that occurred on Agape’s premises but frequently detained and returned runaways without investigating their allegations.  

It appears that several members of the Cedar County Sheriff’s Department staff worked at Agape Boarding School, which may explain the office’s reticence to launch investigations and refer reports to the county prosecutor. Now, the South Missourian sheriff, James McCrary, faces charges of complicity and negligence. 

Agape the Latest Unlicensed Reformatory School to Face Sexual Assault Charges

In recent years, there has been a series of high-profile sexual assault lawsuits against formerly obscure, rural boarding schools. Agape itself was the target of 16 sexual assault lawsuits settled in March 2023. 

Shuttered in January 2023 amidst scandal and outrage, the unlicensed Christian reformatory school once advertised itself as a correction center for troubled youth, whose ethos was grounded in scripture. At one point in his tenure, Jason Britt was forced to stand against a wall for hours while Agape employees recited Bible verses. 

Aside from the personal injury litigation against Agape, the local prosecutor, Ty Gaither, introduced charges against several employees of the disgraced reformatory institution. The charges followed an investigation into reports of abuse and misconduct initiated in 2021 but failed to address all potentially guilty or liable parties. 

The acting Missouri attorney general at the time announced his dissatisfaction with Gaither’s decision to prosecute only 5 individuals with low-level felony charges. The former AG, Eric Schmitt, even asserted that at least 22 additional Agape agents or employees were complicit in crimes far worse than the Cedar County prosecutor pursued. 

Unfortunately, jurisdictional complications prohibited intervention from the state government, and Gaither expressly refused to indulge Schmitt’s protestations. Thus far, the only prominent Agape employee to face child sex abuse charges is David Smock, the reformatory school’s resident physician. 

The Role of Secure Transport Companies in Boarding School Abuse

Unregulated and largely unknown, secure transportation companies assume a crucial role in the traumatic reformatory school experience of countless young people. Many advertise their services as a safe way to transport troubled youths to distant facilities. 

The transportation methods themselves are designed to disturb and disorient the teenagers whom they target. With the express consent of parents, intimidating and muscular men enter youths’ homes and either detain or constrain them with threats, zip ties, and rope. 

Secure transportation personnel came to Jason Britt in the dead of night, as he lay alongside his girlfriend. Informing the 16-year-old that he had been given up for adoption, they proceeded to zip tie his hands and drive him to Agape’s facilities in Stockton, Missouri. 

Although every incident is unique, secure transportation services commonly traffic young boys across state lines. Various state representatives in Utah and Missouri have introduced proposals to regulate intrastate transit, but the interstate travel that these companies conduct ultimately requires a federal solution. 

Liability in Reformatory School Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

In contrast to criminal prosecution against the perpetrators of child sexual abuse, the recent wrongful death complaint is civil in nature. Consequently, it targets Agape Baptist Church, a secure transportation company, the Cedar County sheriff, and select employees and agents as third parties, whose liability includes: 

  • Breach of duty of care
  • Negligence
  • Retention of sexual assailants
  • Insufficient surveillance systems
  • Inadequate hiring, training, and supervision

Fundamentally, the lawsuit alleges that Agape Boarding School’s continual and intentional policies directly contributed to and caused Jason Britt’s death after 13 tragic years following his removal from the institution. 

Common Damages in Boarding School Sexual Assault Litigation

In civil lawsuits for reformatory school sexual assault, plaintiffs are entitled to seek compensation for the injuries they sustained on account of another party’s recklessness, negligence, or abuse. Suffering a sexual assault at a young age can have lasting and torturous impacts on survivors, ranging from emotional dissociation and psychological anguish to physical disfigurement and sexual complications. 

Although no court settlement or award can fully compensate survivors of sexual abuse, it enables them to provide some degree of relief for a variety of damages, including: 

  • Medical costs – past, present, and future
  • Psychiatric care 
  • Pain and suffering
  • Decreased quality of life
  • Loss of consortium 
  • Mental anguish

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer for Your Sexual Abuse Claim

Survivors of child sexual abuse commonly experience feelings of guilt and shame as they mature. As a result, they may refrain from pursuing criminal or civil litigation to hold culpable parties to account. In some cases, they never live to see the enablers and perpetrators of violent assaults brought to justice. 

Lawsuit Legal News recognizes and respects the intense emotional and mental difficulty survivors confront when making a decision about whether to file suit. That is why we offer free consultations for prospective clients to listen to their stories and provide counsel on the most intimate and traumatic experiences they have suffered. 

For more information about the eligibility of your claim, consider contacting one of our experienced sexual assault lawyers today. 


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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