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Abuse of Missionary Kids Reported

October 26, 1998

CLEVELAND (AP) _ Children of American missionaries suffered repeated sexual, physical and psychological abuse at a church-run boarding school in western Africa between 1950 and 1971, according to an internal church report obtained by The Plain Dealer.

The Cleveland newspaper reported Sunday that seven former staff members and two students abused ``a significant number″ of children at the Mamou Alliance Academy in Guinea. The school, which served 200 children of Christian missionaries, closed in 1971.

The internal report was compiled by an independent commission appointed by the Christian and Missionary Alliance, which ran the school. The panel interviewed more than 70 Mamou alumni, several missionary parents and former Mamou staff.

Among the report’s allegations: that one staffer forced children to eat their own vomit, another sexually abused at least five girls during post-bedtime ``tummy rubs,″ a teacher would withhold bathroom passes, forcing pupils to sit all day in their own feces and urine, and a school nurse spied on the boys’ shower room and fondled girls.

Church officials said they have apologized for the alleged abuse and are planning a reunion of Mamou alumni next spring to help the victims heal.

Parents of some of the former students were stunned by the allegations.

``We were so convinced our children were in the best of care that we never entertained the idea that the opposite could be true,″ said Hazel and Henry Neudorf in a letter to one of the missionary organizations.

The school served children of missionaries from the Missionary Alliance, which has more than 1,100 U.S. missionaries overseas, the Gospel Missionary Union, which currently has 340 overseas missionaries, and other missionary organizations.

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