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Cedar County Prosecutor Ty Gaither said earlier this month that he planned to charge seven staff members at Agape Boarding School with abusing students.
But on Tuesday, just five staff members were charged with 13 counts of third-degree assault, a low-level Class E felony. All the alleged incidents occurred between Feb. 20, 2020, and Feb. 26 of this year. Gaither initially had said there would be about four misdemeanor counts, but those were not filed, either.
When asked to explain that discrepancy, Gaither told The Star Tuesday in an email: “These are all the charges we currently plan to file. ... We believe these to be the appropriate charges under the fact of the investigation.”
Among those charged are at least two former students who later became staffers. One of those is Agape’s medical director, Scott L. Dumar, who was charged with four counts of third-degree assault. The other is Seth Duncan, son-in-law of David Smock, a Stockton doctor who for years has provided medical care for Agape students. Duncan was charged with five counts of third-degree assault.
The others charged are Christopher R. McElroy (one count), Everett L. Graves (one count) and Trent E. Hartman (two counts).
Arrest warrants were issued Tuesday and bonds set at $10,000 for three of the men charged — Dumar, Duncan and Hartman, according to the state’s online court docket. Graves and McElroy were each issued a summons to appear in Cedar County Circuit Court at 9 a.m. on Oct. 27.
Besides Dumar, no other top leaders at the school were charged Tuesday. At least two of those charged reportedly no longer work at the school.
One of those two, Duncan, is a former Agape student who later became a staff member. In 2019, he married Smock’s daughter, Vera Smock. She also has worked at Agape, according to her Facebook page.
Numerous former students have told The Star that they either witnessed or suffered physical abuse by Duncan.
One former student told The Star about an incident in which Duncan became upset at some students for not running fast enough in the gym so he made them go outside and run nonstop for about three hours with the temperature well below freezing and no proper clothing for protection. That incident, the former student said, prompted someone to make a hotline call to the state Department of Social Services.
Everett Graves is the brother of Robert Graves, a former student and key staffer at Agape as well as a Cedar County sheriff’s deputy.
Another former Agape student-turned-staffer, Dumar is the school’s medical coordinator. He began working for Agape in 1995, according to a profile in the school’s March/April 2020 newsletter.
Former students told The Star that Dumar not only was abusive himself but covered up abuse by others at Agape. When they required medical attention, including stitches, they said, he would tell the medical personnel that they were injured while playing sports.
In his newsletter profile, Dumar said he was a student at Agape from age 17 until he graduated at 18. The parts he enjoys about his job, he said, were “Helping young men find a new path. Rekindling their relationship with the Lord or leading them to get saved. I love teaching them and watching them grow in the Lord.”
He said Agape founder Jim Clemensen made a big difference in his life. “He became my counselor as a teenager, and he has been one to me ever since...I love his consistency, compassion and leadership. For so many years, he has been the rod to help lead this school in the right direction and keep it going the right way.”