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Felony Charges Filed In Rural Nevada School Abuse Case

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The owners of a shuttered private boarding school for at-risk teens in rural Nevada are facing 45 felony child abuse or neglect charges.

 

Marcel Chappuis, 73, and Patricia Chappuis, 67, were accused of forcing students at Northwest Academy to drink tainted tap water before state authorities shut down the school in February.

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Their attorney, Thomas Gibson, didn't immediately respond Wednesday to messages about the criminal case filed Tuesday by Nye County District Attorney Chris Arabia.

 

It alleges students were subjected to unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering and that the owners failed to properly screen and supervise staffers.

 

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Gibson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal the case amounts to "45 counts of nothing that they can prove."

 

The couple is scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 19 in Beatty Justice Court. They remain free on bail following their arrests Feb. 14. Their attorney at that time said they would fight the charges.

 

Patricia Chappuis also faced felony charges stemming from allegations she had altercations with students.

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Arabia was out of the office and unavailable for immediate comment.

The Review-Journal reported the charges correspond with the number of students enrolled at the school in Amargosa Valley between February 2018 and February 2019.

 

An investigation of the school some 90 miles west of Las Vegas began in January, after a staff member was arrested on suspicion of slamming students to the ground. He was not charged with a crime.

 

The Review-Journal found several state agencies failed for more than two years to address problems including dozens of Nevada Division of Environmental Protection violations written after tap water treatment stopped in October 2016.

 

Students, parents and school staffers describe students being dragged by

their necks, handcuffed to chairs and subjected to inappropriate sexual behavior with staff members.

 

However, the newspaper said the state Department of Health and Human Services, which licensed the school as a child care facility, found many of the claims unsubstantiated.