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`Faith-Based' facility In Missouri accused of abuse.

Employees at a Missouri "faith-based" facility for troubled youths are facing criminal charges after multiple complaints were filed alleging child abuse and neglect.

The Heartland Christian Academy, located about 150 miles north of St. Louis, uses work therapy and a Christian-based education to help children with disciplinary and other problems. In October, however, state officials brought buses to the facility to remove 115 children because their safety could not be assured.

Earlier in the year, five employees at the school were alleged to have punished misbehaving children by forcing them into concrete-lined manure pits. Two months later, four Heartland staffers were accused of spanking a 16-year-old 35 times. Then, in October, another employee was charged with abuse after the staffer allegedly used his elbow to strike a disorderly 13-year-old in the ear, causing the eardrum to burst. School administrators said a lingering ear infection was the source of the problem.

State officials are in the process of investigating the Christian facility and reported on Nov. 6 that they have discovered 16 "substantiated" cases of abuse or neglect. Charles Sharpe, founder of the school, said his employees have done nothing wrong and insisted that officials have launched a "witch hunt" against Heartland.
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Title Annotation:Heartland Christian Academy
Publication:Church & State
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2001
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