Teen reform reporting

My 2002 series on Missouri’s unregulated teen reform ministries won an investigations prize in the Education Writers Association contest and contributed to the closing of at least two centers.



Seven stories over three days show how Missouri is a magnet for such programs. The series also looks at the trauma that students experience decades later.

MAGNET: Missouri is a haven for reform schools

Reform Schools Find A haven Here

ROLOFF: Teen reform schools in Missouri follow pattern set by radio preacher Lester Roloff.

Schools hail pastor as hero who redeemed teens

YEARS LATER: Former students of the teen ministries face demons for years

The graduates are devided between "survivors," supporters

BY THE HANDBOOK: A student handbook shows how the schools keep teens in line.

OTHER SCHOOLS: Two schools mirror Mountain Park.

2 newer schools

A FATHER’S CHOICE: A dad sends his son to an austere teen reform program because he had no choice.

A father's choice

HEARTLAND: Politically connected  Christian academy is winning its battles in court.

Heartland Academy is winning battle in courts


LEGISLATION: Bills are filed in response to series, though they ultimately failed.

LAWSUIT: Soon after the series, a lawsuit is filed against Mountain Park. Meanwhile, a pastor at another school is arrested on abuse charges.

CLOSURE: Mountain Park closes

CLOSURE: Thanks to Calvary closes.

THAYER: I get a tip that yet another school has opened in Missouri, using the same tactics.

DEATH: Not long after my story runs, a student at Thayer dies.

RADIO DOCUMENTARY: Twelve years later KBIA in Columbia, Mo., broadcasts a half-hour piece. I am among those interviewed.

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