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.
THE 2002 INVESTIGATIVE SERIES
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
ROLOFF: Teen reform schools in Missouri follow pattern set by radio preacher Lester Roloff.
YEARS LATER: Former students of the teen ministries face demons for years
BY THE HANDBOOK: A student handbook shows how the schools keep teens in line.
OTHER SCHOOLS: Two schools mirror Mountain Park.
A FATHER’S CHOICE: A dad sends his son to an austere teen reform program because he had no choice.
HEARTLAND: Politically connected Christian academy is winning its battles in court.
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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