Christian School Pays $100 Million Over Torture & Starvation Allegations

After former students sued for allegedly beating, starving, and sexually assaulting them, a now-defunct Christian boarding school in rural West Virginia settled lawsuits with a record $100 million, lawyers of the victims announced.

Dozens of child abuse survivors reached a $100 million settlement with the now-defunct Miracle Meadows after they sued the school for allegedly subjecting them to widespread abuse, including rape, solitary confinement for months, and being denied food and medical care.

The victims’ lawyers said hundreds of students were subjected to “horrifying and unspeakable forms of sexual, physical, and psychological mistreatment” at the Christian boarding school located in the Appalachian community of Salem.

Miracle Meadows offered treatment for at-risk children aged 7 to 17 and those with learning disabilities. It operated from 1987 until 2014, when it was forced to shut down. The boarding school also operated as a ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a Christian denomination known for observing Saturday as its Sabbath.

The lawsuit said investigators began looking into the boarding school after a student drank a cleaning product and was rushed to the hospital. She begged the medical staff for help while being treated, prompting authorities to open an investigation into her claims. The state education status of Miracle Meadows was revoked in August 2014.

However, local authorities have previously said investigators were hampered by students recanting their accusations after being returned to their families and by staff members who were overseas natives and returned home before they could be questioned.

The abuses suffered by these children wouldn’t be believed in a Stephen King novel,” Attorney Jesse Forbes said in a statement announcing the settlement.

"Children deserve to be loved, nurtured, and treated with care, not handcuffed, abused, and thrown in isolation cells with a coffee can for a bathroom," Forbes added.

In 2016, the school’s co-founder, Susan Gayle Clark, pled guilty to child neglect charges and was sentenced to six months in jail and five years of probation. Aside from Clark, the lawsuit was filed against the Columbia Union Conference Association of Seventh-Day Adventists, the Mountain View Conference Association of Seventh-Day Adventists, and the North American Division of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. The named defendants denied all the allegations against them.

The lawsuits settled were consolidated in a case filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court in October 2021 by a former student identified only as H.S.

Before the record $100 million settlement, the largest of its kind in West Virginia, a previous $52 million settlement was reached in 2020, and the plaintiffs’ attorneys said other lawsuits against the former boarding school are still pending.

The latest lawsuit also alleged that some students became pregnant after being raped and were given abortions. Some students aged 7 to 12 were infected with sexually transmitted diseases after being sexually assaulted by the school’s staff members.

If you like our posts, subscribe to the Atheist Republic newsletter to get exclusive content delivered weekly to your inbox. Also, get the book "Why There is No God" for free.

Click Here to Subscribe

Donating = Loving

Heart Icon

Bringing you atheist articles and building active godless communities takes hundreds of hours and resources each month. If you find any joy or stimulation at Atheist Republic, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner.

Or make a one-time donation in any amount.