Indictment: Boy forcibly taken to Missouri boarding school

Aug 31, 2022, 1:16 AM | Updated: 1:28 pm

The mother of a California teenager conspired with a former Missouri boarding school dean on a plan that resulted in the boy being forced into a car, handcuffed for more than 24 hours and driven to a Missouri school for troubled youths, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

The indictment accuses Shana Gaviola, 35, and Julio Sandoval, 41, of violating a protective order issued at the request of Gaviola’s son. If convicted, both could face up to five years in prison and $250,000 fines.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Fresno said Sandoval is founder of an agency that transports minors to boarding schools, and is the former dean of a Missouri boarding school himself — apparently one that is the subject of several criminal cases and lawsuits.

In February, the Kansas City Star reported that a man named Julio Sandoval formerly was dean at Agape Boarding School but had relocated to Lighthouse Christian Academy. Prosecutors list Sandoval’s address as Piedmont, Missouri, where Lighthouse Christian Academy is located. Lighthouse Christian Academy confirmed Sandoval works there.

The indictment didn’t name the school where the boy was taken but said it was in Stockton, Missouri. Agape is in Stockton.

Last year, Agape’s longtime doctor, David Smock, was charged with child sex crimes and five employees were charged with assault, though Missouri’s attorney general said many more workers should have been charged.

The indictment out of California, unsealed Tuesday, stated that Gaviola’s son had been living with another family since 2020. He had petitioned for emancipation from his mother and obtained a domestic violence protection order against her in July 2021.

The indictment said that despite the order, Gaviola and Sandoval conspired to take the boy to a Missouri boarding school. It stated that people working on behalf of Gaviola and Sandoval found the boy at a Fresno business in August 2021, handcuffed him and forced him into a car. He allegedly remained handcuffed for the entire 27-hour trip to Stockton.

The indictment said the boy was held at the boarding school for eight days until his father was able to free him.

Christian boarding schools in Missouri are under increased scrutiny following the allegations at Agape and Circle of Hope Girls’ Ranch, another southern Missouri facility that closed in 2020 when 25 girls were removed amid an investigation. Last year, the husband-and-wife founders of Circle of Hope were charged with nearly 100 counts of abuse, including sexual abuse.

The criminal cases involving Agape and Circle of Hope are still pending. Several lawsuits also have been filed. The most recent lawsuit, filed this week, accused Smock of sexually abusing a now-14-year-old boy who was a student at Agape, the Star reported. Smock has denied wrongdoing.

Agape serves boys ages 12-17. Its website says it’s a nonprofit school “designed to show God’s love to teen boys struggling with behavior issues that can threaten their future.”

After a state investigation last year, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt recommended charges against 22 Agape employees. But Cedar County Prosecuting Attorney Ty Gaither told the AP in April that he filed “the appropriate charges” and planned to file no more.

A woman answering phones at Agape declined comment. Phone and email messages left with Agape’s attorney weren’t immediately returned.

Supporters of religious boarding schools say they provide structure to troubled young people. But the allegations of wrongdoing at Agape and Circle of Hope were the impetus behind a new Missouri law last year requiring more rigorous oversight.

Before that, a 1982 state law gave religious boarding schools free rein and provided the state with no way to monitor how kids were educated or what health care, including mental and behavioral health, was provided.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

11 turkey farm workers charged with cruelty caught on video

Eleven people working for one of the nation’s leading turkey producers have been charged with animal cruelty in Pennsylvania after state police said they were caught on video kicking, stomping and beating turkeys at several farms. The workers were responsible for capturing and crating turkeys destined for slaughter, Pennsylvania State Police said Thursday. They launched […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Floods strand thousands, kill 7 in northcentral Nigeria

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Thousands of travelers remained stranded in Nigeria’s northcentral Kogi state after major connecting roads to other parts of the West African nation were submerged amid the country’s worst flooding in a decade, locals and authorities said Thursday. The floods also killed seven people whose homes were swept away in the state’s […]
1 day ago
Hiring sign is displayed in Deerfield, Ill., Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022. The number of Americans fil...
Associated Press

US applications for jobless benefits increased last week

WASHINGTON (AP) — More Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, but the labor market remains strong even in the face of persistent inflation and a slowing overall U.S. economy. Jobless claims for the week ending Oct. 1 rose by 29,000 to 219,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Last week’s number was revised down by […]
1 day ago
FILE - Cherelle Griner, wife of WNBA star Brittney Griner, speaks during a news conference in Chica...
Associated Press

Brittney Griner at ‘weakest moment’ in Russia, her wife says

WASHINGTON (AP) — WNBA star Brittney Griner is at her “absolute weakest moment in life right now” as she faces a hearing in Russia later this month for her appeal of a nine-year prison sentence for drug possession, Griner’s wife said in an interview aired Thursday. Cherelle Griner told CBS “This Morning” that her wife, […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Turkey appoints new ambassador to Israel as ties warm

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey has appointed a new ambassador to Israel, the state-run news agency reported Thursday, in the latest step between the two countries’ efforts toward normalizing ties. Sakir Ozkan Torunlar, a senior diplomat who had served as Turkey’s consul general in Jerusalem between 2010 and 2013, was named to the post, Anadolu […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Sheriff: Dogs attack family in Tennessee, 2 children killed

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Two young children were killed and their mother was hospitalized after two family dogs attacked them at their home in Tennessee, officials said. The dogs attacked a 2-year-old girl, a 5-month-old boy and their mother Wednesday afternoon in the home located north of Memphis near Shelby Forest State Park, the Shelby […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Indictment: Boy forcibly taken to Missouri boarding school