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Multiple Christian Boarding School Employees Face Criminal Charges

Missouri-based ABM Ministries under fire for abuse allegations, kidnapping charges and runaway reports

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The founder of a Christian boarding school and his wife were arrested Friday (Mar. 1) on first-degree kidnapping charges and abuse allegations.

Larry Musgrave Jr. (L); Carmen Musgrave (R). PHOTO: WAYNE COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Larry Charles Musgraves Jr., 57, was arrested on the property of the boarding school, and his wife, Carmen Musgraves, 64, was arrested hours later after arriving at the sheriff’s department to look for her husband.

Another employee, Caleb Sandoval, was also charged Monday with abuse or neglect of a child for hitting a student multiple times, causing a bloody nose, during boxing training. Sandoval is the son of the school’s director, Julio Sandoval.

The Musgraves both ran ABM Ministries Lighthouse Christian Academy, a private Christian boarding school for boys ages 10 to 13. Located just south of Piedmont, Missouri, its 25,000-square-foot campus sits close to the Ozarks. Its website, since taken down, said the ministry worked with troubled teens, those dealing with ADHD and learning impairments.

According to a report from the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Dean Finch began his investigation into the ministry a few months ago when he was contacted by a former student. He went to Alabama to interview the victim.

Since then, Finch has also made contact with other former students. He “anticipates more charges as the investigation continues, with more alleged victims coming forward,” the sheriff’s department news release states.

The Sheriff’s office has also received reports of five runaway students from the boarding school since January.

Last week, The Kansas City Star published a story on the students. Local resident, Cierra Osborn told the Star she picked up two runaways, ages 12 and 14, after they flagged her down while she was driving. The temperatures were in the low 40s and the boys didn’t have coats.

“I don’t remember seeing this many runaways (from ABM Ministries) so close together,” Highway Patrol Sgt. Clark Parrott told the Star.

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Prior to their arrest, the Musgraves were also involved in a federal lawsuit. In 2009, when the school was still coed, former Lighthouse Christian Academy Principal Craig W. Smith Jr. was accused of sex acts with a female student from 2007 to 2008. The lawsuit alleged the Musgraves failed to take action to protect the student.  According to court records, ABM Ministries and the Musgraves paid a $750,000 settlement and Smith paid a $100,000 settlement.

The Sheriff’s department said the investigation into ABM Ministries is far from over.

“When it comes to children, Sheriff Finch will leave no stone unturned until all victims are interviewed,” the news release said.

Musgraves and his wife are being held at the Wayne County Jail in Greenville, Missouri, without bond.

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Brittany Smith

Brittany Smith is a freelance writer living in Colorado Springs. She is the co-author of Unplanned Grace: A Compassionate Conversation on Life and Choice.