RELIGION

2 Southwest Baptist students dismissed over abuse claims

Southwest Baptist University dismissed two students over their alleged involvement in an assault at a group home for children.

The university in Bolivar, Missouri, said in a news release Monday that the school reported the allegations to law enforcement upon becoming aware of them. The release said the students are "unacceptable" to the "ethics and morals" of the university.

The decision came after Tim Decker, the director of the Missouri Children's Division, reported that an incident of abuse at Home Court Advantage Inc. in Bolivar was captured on video.

A video, first given to KY3 (http://bit.ly/2johwkb), shows one man punching a boy on a bathroom floor. KY3 reported that the video shows a Southern Baptist student abusing a resident at Home Court Advantage.

The university said it took "immediate and appropriate action after being made aware of alleged off-campus student misconduct," and is following instruction from law enforcement.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, Department of Social Services Director Jennifer Tidball and Decker were all present at a news conference. They provided no details about when the abuse is alleged to have occurred or how many children were involved.

Phone messages left with Home Court Advantage Inc. staff weren't immediately returned.

The Department of Social Services privately contracts with such facilities for residential treatment services, Decker said. He said a residential licensing unit is conducting a review of the facility after the incident. The facility houses 64 children with special needs such as psychiatric problems and developmental disabilities.

"When a child that's in our care, whether they're at a residential treatment facility, foster home, or any place where we place them, we expect them to be safe and we expect them to be well cared for," Decker said.

Several state agencies, including law enforcement, are involved in the ongoing investigation.

Bolivar is more than 100 miles southeast of Kansas City.