Attorney General's News Release
July 29, 2010
Attorney General Koster shuts down bogus domestic violence resource service
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster said today a Fulton-based company publicizing itself as a resource center for victims of domestic violence must immediately shut down its website and cease solicitation activities. In addition, it has until October 31 to dissolve its corporate existence.
Koster reached an assurance of voluntary compliance (AVC) with Battered Mother’s Resource Fund, Inc., (“BMRF”), a non-profit corporation owned by Phillip Baney of Fulton. He said the company has solicited donations, claiming to provide numerous services to victims of domestic violence when, in fact, BMRF does nothing for domestic violence victims.
“Most heart wrenching is that BMRF may have prevented domestic violence victims from reaching out for legitimate assistance by claiming that most domestic violence shelters separate mothers from their children,” Koster said. “This is not true, and it is a dangerous statement that could keep a domestic violence victim from seeking assistance for fear of losing her children. Every domestic violence shelter in Missouri accepts children.”
Koster said his investigation revealed BMRF falsely claimed to provide six different services for victims of domestic violence:
- A ranch for kids harmed by domestic violence called Freedom Ranch. This “ranch” does not exist – no land has been purchased and no plans have been drawn up. Further, domestic violence experts say such a plan is unworkable and ill-advised.
- A 24-hour crisis hotline. A toll-free number does exist, but it rings to Baney’s residence and shares a line with Baney’s personal number and internet connection. Baney, his wife, or a neighbor volunteer answers the line. Their coverage is spotty and none have any training or experience working with domestic violence victims.
- Creation and maintenance of an extensive nationwide database of groups who provided services to domestic violence victims. But the “database” was just a collection of outdated photocopied directories and website printouts of Missouri’s prosecuting attorneys’ offices. Also, many of Missouri’s shelters were not even on the list.
- The Mother’s Assistance Fund, which supposedly provides financial assistance to victims. No grant has ever been awarded.
- Community outreach seminars. One class was given four years ago.
- A youth enrichment program. Nothing has been done to develop such a program.