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Missouri ‘Boot Camp’ Is Sued Over Death of Calif. Teenager

March 01, 2005 1 min read

A Missouri “boot camp” for troubled teenagers and three of its employees are facing a lawsuit after a 15-year-old California boy died in the camp’s care.

The parents of Roberto M. Reyes, who died in November, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit last month against the Thayer Learning Center in Kidder, Mo.

The lawsuit, filed with the Fifth Judicial Circuit Court in Buchanan County, Mo., on Feb. 4, alleges that the defendants failed to provide adequate medical care to the teenager, forced him to perform grueling exercises until he was exhausted, subjected him to physical punishments, and confined him in unsanitary conditions.

An autopsy found the boy’s body covered in cuts and bruises that were consistent with physical abuse, the lawsuit says. The medical examiner ruled that the boy died of complications of rhabdomyolsis, which is the death of muscle tissue.

Officials with the Thayer Learning Center did not return calls for comment.

A version of this article appeared in the March 02, 2005 edition of Education Week