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Feds indict former Agape Boarding School dean along with California resident in alleged ‘scheme’ to forcibly transport teenager

Federal Courthouse
Chloe O'Neill
/
KSMU

Federal prosecutors announced Wednesday that authorities arrested two individuals on suspicion of violating a protective order — in what the Department of Justice calls a “scheme” that forcibly took a teenager from California to a southwest Missouri boarding school.

DOJ says California resident Shana Gaviola and Missouri resident Julio Sandoval, formerly dean of Agape Boarding School in Cedar County, made plans for Gaviola’s son to be transported from California against his will.

But those plans violated a lawful order, prosecutors say. In 2020, the boy petitioned California courts for emancipation from Gaviola. He also obtained a domestic violence protection order against her.

Federal court records say individuals acting on behalf of Gaviola and Sandoval found the minor child at a Fresno, California business in summer 2021. They handcuffed him and forced him into a vehicle.

The indictment says the child remained handcuffed during a 27-hour drive from California to Stockton, where Agape Boarding School is located. The boy was retrieved eight days later by his father.

If Sandoval and Gaviola are convicted, each defendant faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, prosecutors say.

Gregory Holman is a KSMU reporter and editor focusing on public affairs and investigations.