I have received from the Attorney General’s office a copy of his request, dated September 23, 2021, to be released from assisting Cedar County with the prosecution of criminal complaints filed in the Agape Boarding School matter. Upon review of the evidence and facts in this case, the county prosecutor’s office has filed 13 charges against five individuals.
The original request I submitted to your office to direct the Attorney General to support the prosecution of this case per 27.030 RSMo. was necessary due to the relatively greater resources available to the Office of the Attorney General. While the Attorney General may feel that the work of his office has been completed, to withdraw from the case at this time would create the appearance of substantive disagreements between us which do not exist. Furthermore, the effective prosecution of the charges in this matter still requires the support from the Attorney General’s office in order to present witnesses, most of whom reside outside Missouri, and thereby prove the allegations.
The Attorney General recommended to my office that we pursue charges on 65 counts. We are confident that we can win the 13 counts we have charged so long as we have the ongoing support of the Attorney General. Without it, our ability to mount an effective prosecution may be hindered by the proportional imbalance between the Cedar County treasury and the budget of the Attorney General which you have recommended to the General Assembly and which they have appropriated. We question the all-or-nothing approach to supporting this prosecution which is implicit in the Attorney General’s request to be released.
In Missouri, the principle is well established that the prosecution of criminal matters is a local prerogative. County prosecutors are best positioned to file and win criminal complaints based on their knowledge of the local community. Nonetheless, local knowledge and experience alone cannot surmount the challenge of prosecuting a case with multiple out of state witnesses, with the limited resources at the disposal of a rural jurisdiction.
With deference to your role as the Governor and chief executive officer of the State of Missouri, I respectfully request that you reiterate to the Attorney General your initial instruction to provide the resources necessary to win justice for the victims in this criminal matter.
Yours in public service,
Cedar County Prosecuting Attrorney
cc: Eric Schmitt, Attorney General of Missouri