Arraignment date for Day set for today Waynesville
By Jodi Elder
Missouri Daily Guide, May 5, 2004

PULASKI COUNTY -- After a preliminary hearing Monday afternoon before Judge Ralph Haslag of Phelps County in Pulaski County courts, Nathan Day was bound over to circuit court for arraignment.

It was determined that Nathan Day will go to trial for allegedly beating a student at his boarding school.

Day, the director of Thanks to Calvary Baptist Church & Boarding Academy in Devils Elbow, faces four felony child abuse charges.

The date for arraignment and setting request for trial was set for May 5 in a Pulaski County court. Judge Wiggins will preside.

After a civil suit was filed by a former student's mother, Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Laura Kriebs filed child abuse charges against Day in August 2003.

Day allegedly beat at least one of his boarders, 16-year-old Christopher Jensen, of Marseilles, Ill.

According to investigators with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Day tied Jansen to the back of a lawn mower and an all-terrain vehicle and made him run behind it. The investigators continued that each time Jansen fell he was dragged a few feet before Day would stop.

In the petition filed last August by Jansen's mother, Deborah Stedman, there were several incidents of abuse while Jansen was in their care.

Stedman, who is represented by St. Robert law firm, Smith Turley Long, states in her petition that her son received excessive physical and mental injuries while in the care of Day's boarding school. Jensen had been a resident of the school since April of 2002. His mother paid the boarding school $800 a month for the boarding, care and education of the teenager. She claims in her petition that because the Defendant, Day, advertised himself as a person qualified to "educate, discipline, counsel and modify the behavior of troubled youth" she placed her son in his custody, relying on Day to take charge of the boy.

She claims that she wasn't aware of the alleged mistreatment until recently because the boy was isolated from his family as Thanks to Calvary's school policy requires. Students are not allowed to talk with relatives until after the first six months of boarding, but always with supervision from Thanks to Calvary employees, according to the school's policies. Thanks to Calvary's policies also outline its belief in corporal punishment.

"A maximum of fifteen swats of any kind ... may be administered in a 24-hour period," reads the Enrollment Agreement, which all parents/guardians must sign before turning over guardianship to Thanks to Calvary.

Jensen remained in a catatonic, non-responsive state in a hospital in Illinois for weeks after the reported incident at the boarding school, according to the petition.

The petition claims that Day "utilized physical striking, forms of mental coercion and deprivation techniques as discipline. It also alleges that Day was negligent in the following respects: he used excessive force leaving bruising on Christopher's body from his buttocks to his knee area, he continued the punishment while bruising still existed and caused intense pain and traumatic psychological injury, and he did not seek medical attention for the teenage boy.

Attorney Tyce Smith, of Tyce Smith Long, told the Daily Guide that allegedly the boy had been deprived food as a form of punishment in addition to the physical striking.

Day's attorneys released a written statement to the press.

"We believe the criminal charges are ridiculous. We believe they are greatly exaggerating the supposed 'injuries' that this young man has received," the attorney said.

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