Students at a controversial school for troubled boys were made to roll around in camel waste to 'build character,' outraged parents have told DailyMail.com.
Agapé Boarding School for Boys in Stockton, Missouri, is currently facing 19 lawsuits alleging torture, starvation, as well as sexual, emotional, and physical abuse.
The students accuse Agapé Boarding School and the Agapé Church of negligence, battery by staff and fellow students, torture and starvation, according to legal documents obtained by DailyMail.com.
Mom Nicole Fernandez, who is among the plaintiffs launching legal action, revealed her then 14-year-old son contracted pink eye from a revolting exercise that involved students rolling around in animal poop.
California mom Nicole Fernandez (center) claims her son Corey, who has special needs, was abused and neglected and even once made to roll in camel waste, while attending Agapé Boarding School for Boys in Stockton, Missouri from February to October 2019
Fernandez told DailyMail.com she was desperate to save her then 14-year-old son, who was spiraling out of control after the sudden death of his father and enrolled him in the school, in hopes he would benefit from 'animal therapy' and emotional support
The Christian boarding school for boys is now facing 19 lawsuits from students alleging torture, starvation, and sexual, emotional, and physical abuse
'The animals were suppose to be for emotional healing and support,' Fernandez told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview.
'That was the main reason I sent my son to Agapé Boarding School. They were all about the animals. They promised that the animals would help Corey with the grieving process and they knew we came from a farm.
'They used this to con me into sending my son there, which ended up being the worst mistake of my life.'
Fernandez, who is from Northern California, only wanted what was best for her son Corey who was spiraling out of control after the sudden death of his father.
The widow was desperate to save her son with special needs before he ended up in jail or dead. With the recommendation of a broker, who actually turned out to be a recruiter from Agapé, she decided to enroll her fragile teen into the all boys school in February 2019.
'It looked like the perfect school with lots of nature and animals to help the students emotionally. I was told they they had worked with lots of kids like my son and were well equipped to handle those with special needs,' she said.
'My son was on the spectrum and been diagnosed with Tourette syndrome, Asperger syndrome, anxiety disorder, and of course, was grieving the loss of his father.'
But after just four months at the school, Fernandez said, Corey had lost so much weight that when she saw him for the first time during a visit, she couldn't believe her eyes.
Agapé Boarding School describes itself as 'an affordable non-profit Christian boarding school designed to show God's love to teen boys who are struggling with behavior issues that can threaten their future'
Fernandez said her son had told her he was dragged out of bed at night in the Ozark winter and forced to roll around in camel muck
The school boasts about its animal farm as one of its many on-campus amenities on its website
Fernandez claimed the only animals kids were allowed to interact with were the horses and a young German Shepherd (pictured) who was allegedly later shot and killed for misbehaving
'My son was standing in front of me and I didn't recognize him. He looked emaciated, his head was shaved. He was wearing an oversized dirty orange sweater and used rain boots that were about size 13 when he was a size 8 or 9,' she said.
'He went in weighing about 185lbs and when I saw him he had dropped nearly 50lbs. He looked like a prisoner. It broke my heart.
'I should have taken him out immediately, but the school was so convincing and kept drilling into my head that this was what was best for him, when in fact it ended up being the worst mistake of my life.'
It was only after Fernandez took her son out of Agapé in October 2019, did she come to realize the actual torment and abuse her son endured for nearly eight months.
'I remember him telling me, like it was normal, how he and other kids had been dragged out of bed at night in the Ozark winter and forced to roll around in camel muck.
'He said: 'That's where I got pink eye.' He was told that it builds character.'
'As a form of punishment, kids were fed special food, a soggy tortilla on a wet cookie tray with a smeared, moldy refried beans and they had to eat two of them,' Fernandez explained.
'If they threw up, they still had to eat it and if they didn't then that's what they had to eat for dinner. They were really, really abusing these kids.'
Fernandez said the so-called animal therapy never happened. In fact, the only animals they were allowed to interact with were the horses and a young German Shepherd who was later shot and killed for misbehaving.
'Who does that, let alone tells the children?' Fernandez asked. 'My son told me how the dog used to always accompany its owner, a staff member, on the back of his four-wheeler.
'When the kids asked where the dog was, the staffer said he shot him. The kids thought he was joking, but it turned out to be true. The staffer shot and killed the dog because it wouldn't obey him and couldn't be trained.'
It wasn't until after reading DailyMail.com's April 27 story on the controversial school that Fernandez found support in the form of a former student who was interviewed for the article.
'I reached out to Robert Bucklin and from there he basically took me under his wing, showing me how and where I could get help. Hence the lawsuit.'
'One thing I want to make extra clear is that Agapé knew that my son was special-needs going into the program and they absolutely abused him.
'Also, they knew that we were still freshly grieving the loss of my husband and they did not support him whatsoever. If anything they took it advantage of our vulnerabilities.'
Agapé Boarding School describes itself as 'an affordable non-profit Christian boarding school designed to show God's love to teen boys who are struggling with behavior issues that can threaten their future.'
Josh Bradney was just 12 years old when he was sent away to Agape Boarding School 'in 2014 for two years.'
Now aged 20, the former student is also seeking justice and filed a lawsuit 'against the school and' church 'last year,' claiming he had been 'raped on a regular basis.'
'Agapé is what threatens a student's future,' Bradney told DailyMail.com. 'It's a cult that tries brainwashing kids into believing that they are terrible people who are going to hell. That their parents didn't want them. That they deserve the abuse.'
Josh Bradney (pictured) was just 12 years old when he was sent away to Agape Boarding School in 2014 for two years. Now at age 20, the former student is also seeking justice and filed a lawsuit against the school and church last year, claiming he had been raped on a regular basis
Bradney, who is now 20, claims the school brainwashed kids into believing they were 'terrible people' and alleged he was regularly raped as a young student. He is pictured above with his family while enrolled at Agapé from 2014 to 2016
'I was the youngest student there and for that reason was constantly targeted, along with anyone else who was vulnerable, disabled or had special needs. They would pick on us non-stop.
These kids with special needs were denied their medication, so they had an even more challenging time just trying to survive.
Fernandez agrees saying that the school went against the American Disabilities Act by not providing her special needs son with the appropriate care.
Bradney described one incident where he was allegedly beaten up so badly by a group of students that he was taken to the doctor.
He claimed he was instructed by a staff member to lie and say that he was injured at football practice, even though he did not play the sport.
On top of that, his doctor at the time, Dr. David Smock, 56, is now behind bars after being charged with 15 sex crimes and attempting to sodomize a 13-year-old in shower.
The school doctor David Smock, 56, (pictured) is now behind bars after being charged with 15 sex crimes and attempting to sodomize a 13-year-old in shower
During his visit, Bradney claimed, Dr. Smock 'touched him inappropriately and was creepy.'
'It wasn't safe anywhere. I couldn't tell any of the staff members or the doctor what really happened to me, including the sexual abuse, or I would get into even deeper trouble. I was happy and relieved when I heard about his arrest,' he said.
Bradney is determined to see the the school shut down before any more kids are hurt.
'You can't just leave these kids behind and get abused,' said Bradney.
Fernandez added: 'I want to see them all be held accountable. I want to see them prosecuted and see the school shut down.
'I want to see all these babies get compensated for a lifetime of mental health.'
After leaving Agapé, the mother had to place her son into a real therapy program, Sunset Bay Academy in Mexico, for another 15 months as a result of his experience at the school.
'He was happy, healthy, loved, fed and we were allowed to go out on the town, and even had overnight visits together,' Fernandez said.
'They never denied me time with my son at his real program and the never denied me access to the facility to see how the children loved and were treated.'
Meanwhile, Robert Bucklin, who has been actively trying to get the school shut down since leaving the school won't be slowing down any time soon.
When he's not working at the hospital as caretaker and studying to get his nursing degree, the 28-year-old who attended Agapé from 2007 to 2013, is helping other former students and parents and calling out city and state officials who have turned a blind eye to the ongoing abuse allegations.
Robert Bucklin, who attended Agapé from 2007 to 2013, has been actively trying to get the school shut down since leaving the school. He is pictured above as a child with his father
Bucklin, now 28, is helping alleged victims call out city and state officials who have turned a blind eye to the ongoing abuse allegations
The former student last week tweeted newly released video footage of Agapé Pastor Frank Burton dragging and kicking a young student on a field in 1999
Bucklin has consistently called officials out on social media for allegedly failing to take action against the school
'For some reason the city and the state are protecting the school. Why else would they remain quiet?' he told DailyMail.com.
'The Governor of Missouri, Mike Parson, has seen the video of the student being kicked and dragged on campus and his response was...you guessed, no comment.'
Bucklin shared a photo taken in 2016 of the then Senator Parson posing with Agapé staff members and students.
The former student recently tweeted newly released video footage of Agapé Pastor Frank Burton dragging and kicking a young student on a field in 1999.
The disturbing video has nearly 34,000 views. Yet, Burton is still at Agapé and is on the Board of Directors.
Bucklin received the same response from the Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt who said his hands were tied.
When requesting a comment, DailyMail.com received a similar response... 'We are not going to comment'.
'We now have five additional lawsuits, making a total of 19, video footage of the pastor kicking a student and hundreds of victims' testimonies. What else do they need? Bodies to start dropping?' Bucklin asked.
Agapé Boarding School did not respond to DailyMail.com's request for comment.